Touted by ESPN as the best prospect not in the NHL, eighteen year-old William Nylander will make his regular season debut with the Toronto Marlies tonight against the Hamilton Bulldogs at FirstOntario Centre (7:30 PM EST – Rogers TV).
Nylander will play LW on a line with Greg McKegg and Spencer Abbott, but Head Coach Gord Dineen was non-committal when giving his thoughts on where he sees Nylander lining up over the course of the season.
[quote font=”0″ font_size=”20″ arrow=”yes”]“Nylander obviously has potential to play both sides of the puck. He’ll be on a learning curve like anyone else coming over here.” -Marlies Head Coach Gord Dineen[/quote]
The challenge for Leaf fans is going to be to temper expectations of the young Swede. The transition from Europe to North America can be a challenge, as players adjust to smaller ice and more physical opponents.
“It’s been good. Getting into it. Getting used to the time difference and everything so it’s good. It felt like you had more time out there (on the big ice) so it was good. It was different, but now I’m back here and already half adjusted to the ice. For me, it’s just the first time when you get on the North American ice it’s a bit different, but then after maybe two-three days, you’re used to it so it doesn’t really take that much time to adjust to.” (Source: TheStar.com)
Leafs management appears committed to keeping Nylander with the Marlies for the duration of the season, regardless of his performance or the performance of the big club.
When asked about the possibility of Nylander getting called up to the Maple Leafs, Assistant GM Kyle Dubas responded, “It’s the same thing I said about (Marlies leading scorer) Connor Brown — right now, there’s not a chance. We need to be patient. We can’t live and die with if he has a good weekend, and I know and I fully expect that the media will continue to ask after every good weekend he has, is he going to come up? And the answer will be no. We need to be patient, develop him properly, and have him be able to come when he’s able to sustain being an NHL player, rather than come up and then go back down and just be more scattered than the season already has been.” (Source: TheStar.com)
The next step in the journey for William begins tonight. Rest assured Leafs Nation will be watching closely.
William Nylander Career Statistics
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