31 Takes: William Nylander, a very bad player who ruined the Maple Leafs and should be ashamed of himself

The results speak for themselves, folks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ record without William Nylander — the scurrilous ne’er-do-well who waited until December to sign his contract and join his team — was 20-8-0. A very good record. In fact, the second-best in the league. They had a plus-29 goal difference.

But since Nylander came aboard, well gang, it’s bad. Before Sunday night’s game against the suddenly not-so-lowly Coyotes, they were 9-8-2 with only a plus-4 goal difference.

And the only way to explain this is that William Nylander is bad. He only has a goal and two assists in 19 games and that’s pathetic, to me. Certainly not worth, if I’m reading the website right, $10.28 million against the cap.

Sure, the way the Leafs did all their winning before Nylander showed up was through the highest save percentage in the league and the fifth-highest shooting percentage. And sure, while they still have the seventh-highest shooting percentage since then, their save percentage has dropped to 21st. But that strikes me as a Nylander problem. The guy doesn’t play defense, everyone. We all know that.

Some might argue that it has to do with Freddie Andersen (.923 on the season and a legit Vezina contender) missing like three weeks a little while after Nylander came back. Leafs goalies gave up 23 goals in eight games in his absence, on just 239 shots. But what about the fact that the Nylander Leafs now give up 3.14 goals per 60 in all situations, after previously conceding just 3.04? That’s an entire extra expected goal every 10 games! Very bad news for the stats-heads out there.

The offense is a problem, too. The Leafs’ expected-goals-per-60 number when he came aboard was 3.35 in all situations, really quite high. Since then it’s 3.34, which you’ll note is… lower.

The fact of the matter is the Leafs just aren’t converting on their scoring chances like they used to. Despite their 260 high-danger chances in the 19 games since he came back (13.7 a night), they’ve only scored 64 goals (3.39 a night). That’s a lot of missed chances that they used to convert way more often. Prior to Nylander’s return to the lineup, they had 376 (13.4 a night) and scored 103 (3.64 a night).

Just look what he did to his linemates’ production: Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau have basically dropped off a cliff since he came back, and that can’t be a coincidence. Nylander’s on-ice shooting percentage is just under 5, following a 185-game career number of almost 10.2, and that just feels like a little thing we like to call regression. Definitely not rotten luck. The fact that Nylander was one of the highest-scoring 20-and-21-year-olds in the cap era doesn’t matter now that he’s 22.

And what about the fact that Auston Matthews went from scoring 15 goals in 14 games before Nylander came waltzing back into the dressing room, but only has 5 in 19 since then? Doesn’t that also feel like a Nylander problem? Can’t discount the way he changed the chemistry, gang.

Some coaches would let an elite young talent work through his problems getting back up to the pace of the NHL game after a few extra months off by putting him in a position to succeed. Some coaches aren’t a genius like Mike Babcock, who made sure to send a message to his team in their most recent game (an ugly loss to Florida) by making sure Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev got 21-plus minutes each, but held the Matthews line to less than 17.

At some point, the stats boys are going to run out of excuses — like his all-world underlying numbers and unsustainably poor percentages — and Nylander is just going to have to produce. What better way to do it than by having his coach keep him on the second power play unit, and on a line with guys like Par Lindholm and Freddie Gauthier?

That $6.9-million AAV isn’t gonna earn itself, buddy!

31 Takes

Anaheim Ducks: Well, the Ducks won back-to-back games. They hadn’t done that in more than a month because they lost every game between the end of their last win streak (four games) and this one (two and counting).

Arizona Coyotes: Wow yeah, Richard Panik might get them like a third-round pick. Incredible.

Boston Bruins: The play where Tuukka Rask got a concussion was INSANELY scary. Do not watch it.

Buffalo Sabres: They really need to figure something out here because this kind of losing can’t continue.

Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano is the fifth Flame to have 50 points so far this season. For reference, the Flames have played 50 games. No one else has more than 27 but when you have five point-a-game players who really cares?

Carolina Hurricanes: This headline has two REALLY good signs for this team down the stretch.

Chicago: I guess it’s admirable that Corey Crawford is working hard to come back again because if it’s me and I’m cashing the kinds of checks he is to not-play for this rotten team, I’m taking the year off.

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs 100 percent are a team that would extremely benefit from getting Kevin Hayes.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Remember when John Tortorella figured out how to make their power play run at 30 percent forever? What ever happened to that?

Dallas Stars: I’m not sure what it says that Winnipeg can play like absolute garbage in the first two periods and put such a beating on the Stars that they almost erase a big deficit in the third. But it’s probably not good.

Detroit Red Wings: Remember when Detroit people were hyping Anthony Mantha as a future 40-goal scorer because he put up a ton of goals in his overage junior season? Wow, now he might score 20-plus for the second straight year. Maybe!

Edmonton Oilers: Now this is a great rationalization: Everyone loses to Calgary, so no big deal that Edmonton did too!

Florida Panthers: I don’t think getting Vince Trocheck back is gonna be what turns it around for these guys but it sure won’t hurt.

Los Angeles Kings: So many guys on this team are trying to get traded. Can’t blame ‘em.

Minnesota Wild: The lesson here: Don’t fight.

Montreal Canadiens: Losing to the Flyers is some real look-in-the-mirror stuff, y’know?

Nashville Predators: They’ve lost four of the last five and if you ask me it’s bad to do that.

New Jersey Devils: My theory about this is that the Devils just aren’t good.

New York Islanders: One of the few reasonable takes on these guys coming out of Long Island in recent weeks.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist is now sixth in wins all-time and he’s eight behind Curtis Joseph for fifth. One of the greats of all time. What a player.

Ottawa Senators: Honestly, eight years at an $8-million AAV isn’t a bad deal for Duchene but also do you wanna be on the Senators for EIGHT more years?

Philadelphia Flyers: Carter Hart up to .918 for his career. Now imagine if they had him all year. Wow.

Pittsburgh Penguins: All of a sudden, all those team defense problems are back in a big way. Concerning.

San Jose Sharks: Yeah I mean give Karlsson two weeks off, who cares. You’d rather have him healthy long-term than playing hurt in January.

St. Louis Blues: This should be the only jersey the Blues wear. Home or road.

Tampa Bay Lightning: It’s hilarious that you can go “good thing they got to the break, because they needed it” about a team that just beat one of the best teams in the league 6-3 and are 4-2-0 in their last six games. Just absurd how good they are.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Huh, the Leafs are looking for a right-shot D? First I’m hearing of it.

Vancouver Canucks: How is it even possible that a franchise that’s almost 50 years old NEVER had a goalie start his career 2-0? Like, mathematically that doesn’t make sense.

Vegas Golden Knights: People bag on Florida for letting Marchsessault go for nothing and they’re right to do it, but imagine Tampa with this kid? The Lightning let him go for nothing too. What a player.

Washington Capitals: Come on with decisions like this.

Winnipeg Jets: Yeah the Jets should definitely push in for a big trade acquisition. That shouldn’t even be a question.

Gold Star Award

Hockey, the beautiful game.

Minus of the Weekend

Jack Johnson was a minus-4 against Vegas on Saturday night. He’s been on the ice for 54 goals against so far this season, almost 38 percent of all Penguins goals allowed. Great contract.

Play of the Weekend

I saw this goal live on Saturday night and it kicked major ass. Vancouver prospect Tyler Madden scored on a great solo effort in a sold-out building, in OT, against the No. 1 team in the country.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User “Toby Flenderson” is getting creative.

To Penguins: Kevin Hayes @ 3.5 million

To Rangers: 2019 1st (team X), 2019 2nd (Pitt), Filip Hallander

To team X: Derrick Brassard


Oh, uhh, ooo, bad dog. Look at that, right on Ned’s lawn.

Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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