Posts Tagged ‘William Nylander’

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander is about to suit up for his fourth career Game 7, and he’s learned a couple lessons along the way.

“I think we came out a little flat in those games – like we were a little bit scared to lose,” Nylander said of Toronto’s previous Game 7 struggles, according to ESPN’s Kristen Shilton. “We don’t need to be scared to lose. We’ve got a great team.”

Toronto hasn’t closed out a series in a Game 7 since 2004, against the Ottawa Senators. The Maple Leafs have an all-time record of 12-13 in Game 7 and were outscored 15-6 in their last three (Montreal Canadiens in 2021, Boston Bruins in 2018 and 2019).

Heading into Saturday’s Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Sheldon Keefe is staying calm under pressure.

“This is as confident as I’ve been coaching this team,” Keefe said.

He added, “It’s because of how we’ve played in this series. … The confidence has grown through the series. The players are going to be relaxed and play with energy. We’re going to give ourselves every opportunity to win the game.”

Keefe is in his third season as head coach of the Maple Leafs. He boasts a regular-season record of 116-50-19 but hasn’t helped his team break out of the first round.

Toronto will face a tall task while trying to eliminate a talented Lightning team chasing its third consecutive Stanley Cup.

“We’re standing here on the cusp of greatness, and why the hell wouldn’t we charge through that door? Let’s go get this. Let’s go attack this,” Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said, per team beat writer Gabby Shirley. “If fear is the motivator, then so be it – but I don’t want there being any excuse if it doesn’t go well for us tonight.”

Game 7 kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

William Nylander has turned the page after his tumultuous 2018-19 campaign.

“Last year’s gone,” Nylander told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston on Thursday. “Out of the books, really, except for maybe taking some stuff that I learned. I look forward to dominating.

“I’m confident in how I am as a player, so I’m not too worried about it.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs winger never got on track last season after his contract dispute lingered all the way to the Dec. 1 deadline and culminated in a six-year, $45-million contract. After finally returning to the lineup, his production failed to meet the standard he set during his first two full campaigns.

Nylander finished the regular season with just 27 points in 54 games before adding a goal and two assists in Toronto’s first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins.

The 23-year-old, despite impressive underlying numbers, was saddled by an abnormally low shooting percentage of 5.4 during the regular season and had to shift to third-line center in the postseason due to Nazem Kadri‘s suspension.

While his NHL numbers underwhelmed, Nylander had a terrific World Championship for his native Sweden in May, posting a tournament-best 18 points through eight games in Slovakia.

“I look back at that season and there were little ups and downs,” Nylander said. “There were games where I would play well and nothing would happen and that’s just how the game goes. Learning through that time period has helped and given me experience and stuff to use for whenever that happens again.

“Now I’m ready to dominate this year.” 

With training camp set to open Sept. 13, the Maple Leafs are once again burdened by contract negotiations as restricted free agent Mitch Marner remains unsigned.

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William Nylander knows he’s mired in a funk, and on Friday night he said his lack of production is weighing on him.

“It affects you,” the Toronto Maple Leafs forward told reporters after a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. “Obviously, you want to score and you want to produce, that’s why you’re here. You’ve just got to dig deep and work harder and harder. Do all the little things you can do to get better.”

Nylander, who has recorded only one goal and two assists in 18 contests this season after posting 61 points in each of his last two campaigns, added that his struggles so far in 2018-19 are unprecedented for him.

“I think the chances have been there throughout a lot of the games and I just haven’t been able to find the net,” he said. “(Friday night) was a little tougher. I’ve never had a slump like this in my life. I’m just trying to find a way to work through it. I’ve just got to work harder and harder.”

The 22-year-old held out until Dec. 1, when he and the Leafs came to an agreement on a six-year deal just minutes before the 5 p.m. ET deadline to sign restricted free agents.

Nylander downplayed the notion that his poor season so far has been tougher to deal with because of his new $45-million pact with the Leafs.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily because of the contract,” he said, according to TSN’s Mark Masters. “It’s more because of the missed time and being out of it for a while … (the) past couple games have been getting better, but now it’s time to score some goals.”

Nylander isn’t the only struggling Leafs player lately, as the team has now lost three of its last four games.

After William Nylander‘s well-documented holdout to begin the year, he’s experienced when it comes to contract negotiations, so much so that the Toronto Maple Leafs winger is offering advice to fellow teammates and pending restricted free agents Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

“Just get it done before the season starts,” Nylander said to TSN’s Gino Redawhen asked if he had any words of wisdom. “That’s probably the one thing you’d want, to get it out of the way.”

Matthews and Marner are both restricted free agents at the end of this season and could find themselves in similar contract negotiations as Nylander if they don’t take the Swede’s advice.

Nylander missed the Leafs’ first 28 games and only has two assists in five contests since returning. He admitted that it’ll take a bit longer to feel like his old self.

“Probably another couple more games,” Nylander said, according to Reda. “So another week, and I’ll feel 100 percent.”

The 22-year-old signed a six-year, $45-million deal on Dec. 1 after posting two straight 61-point campaigns.

William Nylander has been informed that he won’t be shipped out as long as Kyle Dubas is in charge.

“Kyle has told me multiple times that as long as he’s here he’s not going to trade me,” the Toronto Maple Leafs forward told reporters, including The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel, on Monday.

Dubas all but confirmed Nylander’s comment moments later.

“I don’t think we want to get in the business of not having excellent young players,” the general manager said, according to The Athletic’s James Mirtle.

Nylander and the Leafs ended their contract impasse Saturday, coming to an agreement on a six-year deal minutes before the 5 p.m. ET deadline.

It might’ve come down to the final minutes of Saturday’s deadline, but Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander finally has a deal in place. Although the 22-year-old has yet to play this season due to a months-long contract stalemate with the team, he has no hard feelings on how the process played out.

“Everything worked out good for both sides, so there is nothing to be bitter about,” Nylander said, according to Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun. “You want to be playing from the beginning of the season, but things happen for a reason and I am just so happy that it’s over.”

Although there was plenty of speculation as to how the stalemate would end, including a potential trade or bridge deal, Nylander agreed to a six-year deal worth roughly $6.96 million per season with the Leafs.

“That was something I wanted,” he said. “I didn’t want a bridge deal. I want to stay in Toronto with all the players that we have, and we have a great team.

“I didn’t want to risk it by signing a bridge deal and not being able to stay, if that was going to happen.”

Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Saturday that the team hopes to have the winger back sometime over the next week. Nylander, meanwhile, is eager to rejoin his teammates.

“I can’t wait to be back,” he said. “It has been a crazy ride. I wish it would have been done earlier, but I’m very happy to be back with the best fans in the league. I’m very excited.”

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A former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs believes the current front office made a misstep in re-signing William Nylander.

Minutes before Saturday’s deadline, Nylander and the Maple Leafs agreed to a six-year, $45-million extension, ending a months-long stalemate and avoiding the possibility of the Swedish forward sitting out the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign.

But the deal is apparently too rich for Brian Burke, who served as Maple Leafs GM from 2008 to 2013.

“My objection to the Nylander deal is two-fold. One, he’s the sixth-best player on the team,” Burke said Saturday on Sportsnet’s To The Point. “He’s the sixth-best, arguably the seventh-best, on the Toronto Maple Leafs and they paid him all this money.

“I also think that if they were going to throw this much money at him, they should have done it in August and not had him miss training camp. If you’re going to give away the farm like this, do it early and get him in camp.”

Nylander is the first member of the Maple Leafs’ Big Three to reach restricted free agency, with fellow forwards Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews due for new deals next summer. Those contracts, plus the signing of John Tavares last offseason, could force other players to move elsewhere.

“I do believe (Nylander won the negotiation),” Burke added. “The notion that you’ll put more money on the table late, that’s a lesson that the agents for these other players are going to learn that with Toronto all you have to do is hold out and they’ll up the ante. That’s dangerous ground.”

William Nylander can count Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Nikita Kucherov as a supporter amid his contract impasse with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kucherov faced a similar situation to Nylander’s prior to the 2016-17 campaign, as he was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level deal, missing training camp as well as the entire preseason before agreeing on a three-year bridge contract worth $4.76 million per year.

Nylander has missed 21 games amid his standoff with the first-place Maple Leafs and needs to come to an agreement with the club by Dec. 1 in order to play this season.

The entire saga has been one of the league’s most persistent storylines since it began, but if Kucherov was faced with the same situation today as he endured two years ago, he could see himself in the same boat as Nylander.

“I would have done the same thing,” Kucherov told Joe Smith of The Athletic. “I don’t know what’s happening right now there (in Toronto), but to have a guy like him on any team, every team wants him.

“He’s still going to be a great player; great playmaker; great goalscorer. Everybody has their opinion on him, but as soon as he gets to play, he’s going to prove to everyone – they’ll just be talking about hockey. If he thinks he’s right, good for him.”

Both the Maple Leafs and Nylander’s camp have expressed their desire to come to terms on a long-term deal, but with less than two weeks remaining until the deadline, there’s no clear indication as to how the impasse will end.

Mike Babcock raised some eyebrows on Thursday when asked to assess his team so far this season.

“Obviously (I’m) ecstatic,” the Toronto Maple Leafs head coach told reporters, including TSN’s Mark Masters. “Any way you look at it, we’ve (gotten) off to a good start. We think our team’s going to get better. We have significant pieces not here and they will be here.”

That may have simply been optimism, or just a prediction rather than an update. Either way, Babcock was clearly referring to holdout William Nylander and the injured Auston Matthews.

“So we’ll be a deeper team (with them), but in the meantime, we’ve been allowed to grow players and create depth in (our) organization, which is important,” the bench boss added.

Nylander and the Leafs have until Dec. 1 to resolve their stalemate before the forward is forced to miss the rest of the season. The 22-year-old has yet to report because he doesn’t have a contract.

Toronto is comfortable going without Nylander for the entire campaign if no deal is reached by the deadline, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported on Saturday.

Matthews, meanwhile, has been out since Oct. 27 with a shoulder injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly aren’t against letting the contract impasse between the organization and unsigned forward William Nylander go beyond the Dec. 1 deadline to sign restricted free agents.

“Even with it so close now, the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t feel there has to be a resolution to this by Dec. 1,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said during Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment on Saturday.

“If there isn’t a trade that presents itself, and we spoke last week about the fact that they are gauging the market on William Nylander, and William Nylander’s demands don’t come in to the range they’re comfortable paying, they’re comfortable letting this player sit.”

Nylander has been absent all season, and the two sides have until 5:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 1 to strike a deal. If that doesn’t happen, the 22-year-old will be forced to sit out the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign. Last week, it was reported the Maple Leafs are engaging in trade dialogue regarding the dynamic Swede.

Both Nylander and Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas have expressed a desire to find common ground on a long-term deal. But with under two weeks left to reach an agreement, it’s unclear how the scenario will play out.

Nylander has recorded back-to-back 61-point seasons.