Todays SlapShot

Toronto Maple Leafs

No Need to Rush William Nylander to NHL

NHL: SEP 21 Preseason - Senators at Maple Leafs
(Kevin Sousa/Icon Sportswire)

With a rebuild underway, there isn’t much to be excited about for Toronto Maple Leafs fans. There’s a strong chance that many of the current roster players will not be on the team moving forward, so it can be difficult to be excited about a prospect. Fans do have one reason to get excited about the future and that is William Nylander.

To say that Nylander has gotten off to a good start with the Toronto Marlies would be an understatement. One could make an argument that he has been Toronto’s third best forward behind only Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk. Considering he’s not even in the same league as the other two, that’s some pretty high praise.

The Swedish superstar is on pace to break the 100-point plateau and the Marlies single season point record of 79 points in 70 games set by Tim Stapelton in 2008-09. He’s been incredible and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Such exciting play from Nylander is turning heads and might make it tempting for the Maple Leafs to call the superstore up to the NHL to see first-hand what he is capable of. However, it’s best for the Leafs to leave him in the AHL for the time being.

With 23 points in 17 games, Nylander leads the AHL in and has been a dominating force. There is little doubt that Nylander is ready to take the jump into the NHL, but the Leafs are not ready for him quite yet.

Allowing Nylander to stay in the AHL will allow him to build his confidence, learn Mike Babcock’s system and thrive around other players closer to his age.

In his first full AHL season. Nylander has gotten off to a very hot start, but he still has a long way to go and a lot of games left to prove his start isn’t a fluke. If Nylander is good enough for the NHL he should have no problem showing it throughout the rest of the AHL season.

Leaving him in the AHL will allow him an opportunity to lead the league in scoring and learn how to dominate with his skill. Nylander is a talented player and should have no difficulty using his skill to turn the ice in his favor. With the Marlies, he will have the opportunity to showcase his skill and work together with his teammates as they look for a spot in the AHL playoffs — something he would not experience in the NHL this season.

Sure the Leafs can always return him to the AHL in time for the postseason, but the skills and game knowledge he gains from helping propel his team into the playoffs will be invaluable.

While he learns to dominate and uses his skill to his advantage, Nylander will have the ability to put on muscle while playing against other players closer to his age and size. Having him jump into the NHL as an undersized 19-year-old will only limit his true potential in contributing at that level.

Most importantly, there is little pressure on Nylander while he develops at the AHL level. With the focus squarely on the NHL club, Nylander can somewhat fly under the radar and play his game at his own pace. Calling him up to Toronto would only place a huge target on his back as his every move becomes scrutinized. At the AHL level if he goes goalless or has a bad game it is a lot less important then that happening in the NHL.

Nylander needs to stay in the AHL for the foreseeable future in order for his game to fully develop. He will be given more ice time to succeed and a bigger role with the Marlies that will allow him to take his game to the next level. Besides, wouldn’t it be better to have William Nylander AHL MVP and scoring champion in the pipeline, instead of rushing him and having his success be limited off the bat?

Nylander is a promising player. However, he still has areas of his game that need to be developed and proven. For his confidence, there is no better place for him to develop at the moment than the AHL.

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