Before having the chance to run him through a full practice, Mike Babcock will apparently slide William Nylander into the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup.
After his months-long contract stalemate ended just before the cut-off point for his season on Saturday evening, Nylander will make his return against the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Thursday in Toronto.
He broke the news himself at the Maple Leafs’ annual visit to Sick Kids Hospital.
Babcock himself has not confirmed Nylander’s return (his comment after Tuesday’s win over the Sabres: “I hope he plays. Enough’s enough here, let’s get going”), so we don’t know where he’ll slot in yet.
He’s fully expected to reunite with Auston Matthews on the top line eventually, of course, but with the star centre also dealing with some conditioning issues after a lengthy absence due to injury, it’s possible that the Leafs start them on separate lines.
If Nylander is eased into the lineup expect Matthews to stay on a line between Patrick Marleau and Kasperi Kapanen.
Nylander successfully leveraged a near-$7-million annual salary by posting back-to-back 60-point seasons with a 20-goal, 41-assist season last year.
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