Toronto Maple Leafs: Just Pay William Nylander Already
Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews Will Not Score 102 Goals
The first major hurdle of Kyle Dubas reign as Toronto Maple Leafs general manager is fast turning into a massive failure.
Fighting with one of your best players is not a good way to kick off your tenure, and ultimately, the Toronto Maple Leafs need William Nylander more than he needs them, so let’s get this done.
The Leafs should have locked up Matthews, Marner and Nylander before the season started. To fail on the first two is one thing, because those players might not want to sign until after the season. But to not have Nylander in the lineup is a massive failure that gets worse with every game he misses.
I understand the need for cost certainty, but this is getting ridiculous. The Leafs have their a better chance to win the Stanley Cup this season than they ever will again – twenty million tied up between Matthews and Marner all but guarantees that. The points they are wasting right now because they aren’t icing their best line will come back to haunt them.
In the NHL’s wacky playoff scheme, two of the best three teams in the NHL face each other in the first round of the playoffs (i.e two of Boston, Toronto and Tampa) and these early season points are a necessity – the Leafs must ice their best team now.
All you need to know about how much the Leafs are missing Nylander can be summed up in one number: 46.96.
46.96% CF is Auston Matthews current possession rating. Other than Patrick Marleau’s, it’s the worst on the Leafs among forwards.
The fact that the Leafs best player scored ten goals on 50% shooting to kick of the season hides the fact that nearly every game their line has been getting destroyed.
William Nylander is among the best in the entire NHL at entering the offensive zone, and exiting the defensive zone with possession of the puck. He is far and away the best Leafs player at this skill. (This was in Ian Tulloch’s piece yesterday in the Athletic).
The fact that Matthews is struggling so much can be directly attributed to his current lack of Nylander. Nylander, contrary to popular opinion, does just as much to improve Matthews’ game as Matthews does for him. They are one of the best combos in the NHL and when Matthews isn’t scoring on every other shot (a fluke) this is really noticeable.
The Leafs current first line (Matthews, Marleau and Kapanen) is not worthy of the title. They are getting caved in game after game, as the Leafs are missing arguably their second best player.
The time of madness has to end. William Nylander – if you adjust for the fact that he plays much less per game than most players of his skill level – is an elite scoring forward in the NHL.
He’s worth every penny he’s asking for, and it’s time for the Leafs to cave. This doesn’t mean you pay him $8 million, but it does mean they should come up and meet him half-way.
Nylander is worth more than Nick Ehlers, so $7.5 over 7 years is fair, and it’s overdue.
Stop fighting with a franchise player. Pay him, get him on the ice and make sure you don’t finish second in the division and open against Boston just because you lost a few games in October you didn’t need to.