Toronto Maple Leafs: William Nylander picking up where he left off

William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

Through the first two games of the season, there is no doubting that William Nylander has been the Toronto Maple Leafs best player.

It is easy to get overreact to what happens two games into a new season but make no mistake, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to see William Nylander elevate his game.

There is no denying that he was the Leafs best player in the playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens and he carried that over with two goals in both games. He isn’t shying away from contact and consistently driving into the tough scoring areas.

We found out during training camp that the 25-year-old was also looking to step up as a leader in the locker room. During his time in Toronto, Nylander hasn’t been the most vocal player but it’s hard to hide when your play is putting you in the spotlight for the right reason.

"“He really wants to take on more of a leadership role and make that presence felt amongst the room,” John Tavares said about Nylander.“He just feels that responsibility. It’s time for him to take ownership of some of those things and wanting to be involved in a lot more, whether it’s off the ice or on the ice just with the consistency that’s needed on a daily basis.”"

At a $6.9 million cap hit, there is no questioning that Toronto is getting excellent value for what Nylander provides. Really, we started to see this two years ago when he scored 31 goals in 68 games but knew it could always get better.

With Auston Matthews out of the lineup, Nylander is getting his spot on the power play and he definitely should stick on that top unit considering his shot continues to be underrated. Not only that, but getting that power-play time will provide him with a chance to go above a point-per-game.

Nick Ritchie could get short leash with lack of top-line production

It takes time for new lines to develop chemistry but when a player gets put on the top line, there’s pressure to see some sort of impact before changes are considered. Right now, Nick Ritchie won’t get much time to play with Tavares and Mitch Marner if that line needs a shake-up from another player.

The Leafs have many options on left wing and could see a player like Michael Bunting move up. Even Pierre Engvall has had more of an impact and could also be a candidate to receive more ice time if he can continue to play with some consistency.

Of course, Ritchie still has time to prove he can play in the top six but with each pressing game, the Leafs need to consider how long of a leash he will have. Right now, that rope shouldn’t be too long considering Marner and Tavares look like they could use some help to get themselves going at 5-on-5.

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What do you think about Nylander’s play so far this season? Can he keep this up? Do you think Ritchie is capable of being a top-six player? Let us know in the comments below.