What You’ve Missed Through All This Nylander Talk

Just before the 5 p.m deadline on December 1st, Nylander and the Leafs finally found even ground. The young Leafs forward locked into a six-year contract worth an average of $6.9 million annually. Having Nylander back with the team is awesome but the fact that the cloud following this team has cleared up is much better.

The whole drama behind whether Nylander would be traded, signed or have to sit out the season was the story of this team. With good reason. Willy is an incredibly skilled young forward who could help any team through the prime years of his career. Not to mention, the team he was kept away from has been tearing up the league. There’s no doubt that with the addition of Nylander back into the lineup, the Leafs are now even more of a cup favourite then they were a mere 24 hours ago. 

Although the team has been doing well, the actual hockey part of the season has been put on the backburners. Like I said, everything has been about Willy. All the media scrums, tweets, insider analysis has been “Willy this” and “Nylander that”. Meanwhile, they should probably be talking about the exciting stuff coming from the players who are actually playing.

Here’s a few things that probably should have got more attention:

1.     They’re off to their best start since the century turned over and they sit 3rdplace in the NHL even though their best player has missed significant time with an injury and one of their best forwards hasn’t even been playing. They’ve been among the top of the league the entire season and many power rankings have had them in the top three each week. The reason for the success is that guys like Marner, Kapanen and Rielly have stepped up BIG.

2.     Marner has taken a long jump leap and is on pace for over 113 points this season which would sit him 3rdall time for points in a season by a Leaf. Any other season, people of Toronto would be claiming him as the GOAT and he’d be all over Toronto media.

3.     Rielly BROKE A RECORD SET BY BOBBY ORR. I wrote about his impact on the Leafs so far this season (Here). Once again, another thing that has been swept under the rug because of the Nylander drama.

4.     Oh yeah, Matthews. He BROKE A RECORD SET BY WAYNE GRETZKY. He became the youngest player to ever record multiple points in his team’s first five games of the season and before his injury was on pace for his first 50 goal campaign.

5.     Between the pipes, Andersen has looked tremendous and is absolutely in the conversation for the Vezina trophy. He’s sitting tied for first in wins, goals saved above average; and he’s second in point share, goals against average and save percentage. The guy is having a career year and is a huge reason for the team’s success but he’s just another aspect getting overshadowed by the Nylander drama. 

6.     On top of everything, John Tavares is a F****ng Leaf. He’s playing out of his mind and he too is getting overshadowed by a 22 year old who hasn’t played a game this season. He was by far the biggest addition of the off season and there has been little talk about him in comparison to Willy. He’s a hometowner who finally came home to play for his team. Who doesn’t love a story like that?

With all this media coverage, you’d think Nylander is the next Gretzky or Lemieux but he simply isn’t. Of course, if he’s playing on the team they’ve probably got a few more wins and goals but they were doing more than fine without him. In fact, they were still among the favourites to win the cup whether or not he was on the ice. I’m happy to see the dream of this young core together stay alive but I’m even happier we won’t have to listen or talk about it ever again.