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Get to Know a Maple Leaf: William Nylander

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As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Maple Leafs, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important Leafs players and how they might impact the series.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

William Nylander

#29 / Right Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 190 | Born: May 1, 1996

Birthplace: Calgary, AB | Drafted: 2014 TOR, 1st round, 8th pick (8th overall)

  • Assets: Like his father, Michael Nylander, he has excellent playmaking skills. However, he's also a better skater than his dad and should score more goals, too. Can play either wing position, as well as center.
  • Flaws: Is undersized for the National Hockey League game, so he must continue to get stronger in order to maximize his scoring output at the highest level. Also, he must work on his play without the puck.
  • Career Potential: Dynamic, versatile playmaker with big upside.

Career 20-Game Rolling Five-on-Five CF% (via Corsica):

2016-17 Usage Chart (via Corsica):

Why you should know who he is: The son of former Capital Michael Nylander, William Nylander appeared to play second fiddle to the young Maple Leaf stars in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner early on in the season. However, Nylander went on a tear in his first full season as an NHL player. In his last 30 games of the season, Nylander was nearly a point per game player, scoring eight goals and 26 points. Nylander played the majority of his ice time flanking Matthews this season, and while all eyes will be on Matthews for the better part of this series, Nylander is more than capable of doing damage. He is, after all, the team’s third-leading scorer, just eight points behind Matthews.

How the Caps can stop him: Adjusted for score and venue, Nylander leads the Maple Leafs in Corsi For percentage among players with at least 14 games played, rocking a 53.04 percentage. That clearly makes him a dangerous player on the ice. But what Nylander excels at is the passing game, and he will look to feed Matthews early and often in this series. Nylander’s 22 goals this season is nothing to laugh about, but Nylander will generally not drive to the net, unlike Matthews. His 28.17-foot shot distance was the fifth-furthest total among Leafs forwards this season. Chances are, when Nylander has the puck, he will be looking for Matthews. The Capitals have to respect Nylander’s skill level and believe he has the ability to complete any pass on the ice.