Stop Manufacturing William Nylander as Trade-Bait
The Toronto Maple Leafs are not trading William Nylander.
At least, they aren’t if – as I suspect – they are run by competent people. William Nylander is untouchable. There is this pretty stupid thing that happens in the National Hockey League when a team has more than a couple good players – the media keeps trying to trade the guy they see as an “extra.”
But William Nylander isn’t an ‘extra’ – he’s a core piece of a team that can be really, really good.
And if they trade him, they will regret it for the rest of his career.
You Don’t Trade Guys Like Nylander
Nylander is 20 years-old. He is an incredible skater with soft hands and great moves.
Nylander leads the Leafs forwards in xGF% and CF% – two very impressive marks for a rookie. He has 31 points in 48 games. And, he has the lowest PDO of any forward on the team, which means that he’s been relatively unlucky and that he should have more points.
If you crunch the numbers – Nylander, and not Marner, is the Leafs best player after Auston Matthews. Yes, Marner is a human highlight reel, but Nylander is the far more complete player.
Given that he’s a rookie, putting up the totals and peripherals that he is, he projects to be a super-star. A point-per-game player with the capabilities of being a “plus” defender.
Career potential: Marian Hossa.
Never, Ever Trade Nylander
Do you know what Kris Letang, P.K Subban, Duncan Keith, Jake Muzzin and Shea Weber all have in common? None of them were picked in the first round. The Penguins, Kings, and Blackhawks have won seven of the last eight Stanley Cups. All three of those teams had a second-or worse- round pick as a #1 defenseman.
The Toronto Maple Leafs can afford to wait to find out which of their defensive prospects will become their Muzzin or Keith. They have absolutely no need to trade one of the crown jewels of their rebuild in order to accelerate the growth of their defense.
Maybe Andrew Nielson is their Duncan Keith. Maybe it’s Stephen DesRocher or Travis Dermott. Who knows? The point is, it certainly doesn’t matter today.
If the Leafs can use their capital to get a defenseman without trading Nylander, then the more power to them. Teams worse than the Leafs are this year have fluked into a great Playoff run, so I’m not against getting a Shattenkirk or a Tyson Barrie.
But I am if it costs Nylander. William Nylander is untouchable. Don’t trade him for anyone, anything, for any reason. If they’re going to do that, they might as well bring back Cliff Fletcher.