Parenteau’s prediction: Nylander’s going to be a star
P.A. Parenteau will return to the Maple Leafs lineup and is projected to play on a line with Zach Hyman and William Nylander, the latter he thinks will blossom into on NHL star.
Maple Leafs want William Nylander to increase intensity level
Mike Babcock is making a fine film student out of William Nylander.
It’s not just the positives and negatives of Nylander’s adjustment to the National Hockey League that the Maple Leafs coach has on cue when he fires up the DVD player.
In five games, Nylander has averaged 16 minutes 31 seconds of ice time and has scored one goal. Observers don’t have to watch every shift to know the 19-year-old’s tenacity has room for improvement.
Naturally, it has become a focus for Babcock.
“Skill level is not an issue for him,” Babcock said on Tuesday.
“The intensity you have to play with each night … I showed him some clips the other day of (David) Krejci (of the Boston Bruins) and (Jonathan) Toews (of the Chicago Blackhawks) whacking and hacking each other and one running the other.
“Those are star players. That is how hard you compete. In the end if you want your game to match your skill set, you have to compete pretty hard in this league.”
Babcock hasn’t had to have the same conversation with Nikita Soshnikov and Zach Hyman. It’s worth noting that Nylander will turn 20 in May; Soshnikov will be 23 in October and Hyman will be 24 in June. No matter the levels of hockey they have played, they have more experience than Nylander, and that has been evident in work ethic since all were summoned from the Toronto Marlies last week.
In a perfect, injury-free world, Nylander would have got his start with the Leafs on the wing, something that would have allowed him to get accustomed to the NHL with a little more ease, as the responsibilities that come with being a centre are greater.
Tyler Bozak and Byron Froese are hurt, and Nick Spaling was traded, leaving Babcock with no option but to have Nylander in the middle.
“I had this great plan, it looked good on a napkin, but when everyone got hurt …” Babcock said. “Lots of centres come to the league and they play a couple of years on the wall and then they end up in the middle. This is a different situation. We don’t have centres.”
Nylander knows he could bring more jam to each shift. Plays that he could make in the American Hockey League don’t transpire as often in the NHL. Because he is at centre, it’s that much more crucial that he is on point.
“Without the puck you are playing against guys who are more skilled, and you just have to be ready all the time,” Nylander said. “In the AHL, you can win the puck back and keep it, now you are chasing the puck and trying to keep them from getting to the offensive zone.
“I didn’t expect to go out and put up a lot of points in the beginning. I have to get used to the way the game is being played, get up with the intensity, work harder.”
There will be a new linemate for Nylander on Wednesday night when the New York Islanders visit the Air Canada Centre. Veteran P.A. Parenteau will return after missing five games with a neck injury and will play with Nylander and Hyman. The expectation is Brad Boyes, who is dealing with a shoulder stinger, will sit. Garret Sparks will be in the Leafs net.
“I got to play with Willie a bit at camp and I could see what he could do,” Parenteau said. “You don’t lead the American league in scoring at (19) if you are not going to be a star in the NHL. It’s going to take some time for him, but hopefully I will help him with the process.
“It’s a fine line between turning it over and making a nice play in the NHL. The strength of defencemen is a big difference, but I am sure he is smart enough to figure it out.”
The key is that Nylander appears to be keen.
“Sometimes I feel you don’t really see me for a little bit so I want to try to get that going for every shift,” Nylander said. “I want to get myself going as good as I can for next year.”
20 Questions with William Nylander
Parenteau’s prediction courtesy of SportsNet, Maple Leafs want William Nylander to increase intensity level courtesy of The Toronto Sun/Terry Koshan
20 Questions with William Nylander courtesy of Marlies T.V. on Youtube