Leafs superstar William Nylander
Photo credit: CTV News

William Nylander's role with the Maple Leafs changing significantly

Published February 6, 2024 at 11:34
BY MIKE ARMENTI

This season, we have seen William Nylander's game ascend to new heights. Not only is Nylander currently leading the Maple Leafs in points with 62 points in 48 games, but he's also added a new element to his game this season as well.

Sheldon Keefe has put a lot of trust and a lot of faith in Nylander this year, and so far, it has paid off in spades. Nylander is now officially an all-situations player, meaning that not only is he a go-to guy at 5v5, he's also a focal point on the team's top powerplay unit and has even begun to kill penalties.

Nylander already has 2 short-handed goals to his credit this season - the first two short-handed goals of his career. On Monday, Keefe had two pretty big holes to fill on the penalty kill with Calle Jarnkrok and David Kampf injured. Surprisingly, it was Nylander that he turned to, placing the Stockholm native on the top PK unit, alongside Mitch Marner.




Nylander hasn't exactly been the portrait of defensive responsibility over the course of his career, so when it was announced this season that he'd factor in for the Leafs on the penalty kill, I'm not sure many were under the impression that he'd excel in such a role.

Last night, in his first look on the Leafs' top PP unit, Nylander actually performed well in his duties and the Leafs did not surrender a goal while shorthanded, though it does bear mentioning that the Islanders only had two powerplay opportunities all night.

It's early, and Nylander hasn't begun his 8-year contract worth a staggering $11.5M per season yet, but if the Leafs truly are getting another quality all-situations player in the 27-year-old, then perhaps the deal isn't as worrisome as it had originally appeared to be.
POLL
February 6   |   885 answers
William Nylander's role with the Maple Leafs changing significantly

Is William Nylander capable of being a full-time all-situations player?

Yes, he's elite47353.4 %
No, he won't be a penalty killer for long24327.5 %
Let's see how they use him in the playoffs first16919.1 %
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