Toronto Maple Leafs need William Nylander to improve his play at 5-on-5
It’s tough to be critical of a player who has 17 goals and 45 points in 46 games but William Nylander hasn’t been producing like he should be at 5-on-5. Really it’s the entire second line of Nylander, John Tavares and Alexander Kerfoot who haven’t been as good as they should be at even strength.
Since Jan. 1, William Nylander has three even-strength goals in 16 games. When you compare that to the top line, Mitch Marner has six while Auston Matthews and Michael Bunting lead the way with eight.
It’s not just the goal scoring that’s a problem for Nylander and company, it’s the goals-against as well. While plus/minus isn’t everyone’s favourite stat, it should be noted that Nylander (minus-4) and Tavares (minus-5) aren’t putting forth the effort on defence to mitigate their offensive struggles.
This could be a situation where Sheldon Keefe needs to consider moving a player to that line to shake things up. Should Bunting get some time with Tavares and Nylander? Does Ilya Mikheyev deserve another chance to play in the top-six or should it be Ondrej Kase?
Something has to give because when the games get tougher, the Leafs cannot be too reliant on the top line because we know what can happen when the depth isn’t there.