In part two of this way too early attempt at predicting Auston Matthews linemates for next season William Nylander slots into the right-wing position. For good.
Do exorbitant point totals against Norway and Austria really signal that William Nylander may be turning a corner after a disappointing 2018/19 season? I can wholeheartedly say, without a single doubt… I dunno, maybe.
It’s certainly not bad news that Nylander is racking up points with team Sweden at the World Hockey Championships. I know a lot of Leaf fans are suggesting that points against “happy to be invited” teams like Austria and Norway shouldn’t be read into. That being said, Bill Ny the Wristshot Guy is looking lethal again on the ice which is crucial.
Matthew and Nylander share an elite shot and impressive playmaking vision. With the speed of both players, their vision is instrumental in allowing them to stay ahead of their opposition. As we’ve seen in the past, the passing between these two players is seam splitting and effective. Period.
When played together, Nylander and Matthews provide two elite shooting threats from the wing and slot. Having multiple shooting threats helps spread defensive coverage, creating more space naturally. Mix in a physical forward and the coverage issues could be exposed even further.
The Leafs should start viewing their top two units as two men crews. We know John Tavares and Mitch Marner have some stellar chemistry. Hyman certainly adds to this chemistry and is a fixture on the unit, but he isn’t a lynchpin to that line’s success. Matthews and Nylander need to be viewed as a two-man crew with a Hyman-like player being added. They also need the freedom to create without the threat of a fourth line demotion looming.
It may take more than an impressive international tournament for Nylander win back the trust of Mike Babcock. However, I’m certain Matthews wants the best possible players playing alongside him, and on the Leafs that is Nylander. The only thing missing is their Hyman…