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Should The Leafs Play William Nylander At Center?

William Nylander
Should the Maple Leafs play William Nylander at center? Apparently, it’s something that Toronto is experimenting with. (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Should The Leafs Play William Nylander At Center?

I included this nugget in a recent post I just published, but it sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to play William Nylander at center this year. Luke Fox at SportsNet is on the scene for Leafs training camp and is starting to gather more information on the potential lineup change.

Nylander, 27 was originally drafted as a center and played there once upon a time for the Marlies. However, he’s played mostly wing in Toronto playing the same line as John Tavares. We also know the best teams in the league are strong down the middle as evidenced by the Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup championship. Toronto could try to replicate that approach by having four deep lines with Auston Matthews, Tavares, Nylander, and David Kämpf down the middle.

Apparently, the idea was suggested by new general manager Brad Treliving who was hired this Summer. Head coach Sheldon Keefe added that he and the player are on board with the idea.

“Willy can do whatever he puts his mind to. He’s that good. I push Willy more because I really do believe in his ability,” Keefe said. “It’s not going to be a one-off or a one-day thing or one pre-season game. We want to give it some time.”

Treliving made no secret about the fact that his first order of business was getting a contract extension done for Matthews. That’s since been accomplished. He’s now echoing a similar statement when it comes to getting a new deal done for Nylander.

“It’s obviously a priority. We want to get Willy signed. We’ll try to get it done,” said Treliving, who has taken a quick liking to the player. “He’s a cool cat. He’s a really neat kid.

“There’s not a lot that bothers this guy. It can be misinterpreted. This guy really does care. He cares about having success.”

Just a quick side note for me. If this change happens, I think you have to give Nylader a slight downgrade in fantasy. It very well could turn out to be a move that’s best for the team, but it’s going to be harder for him to put up points on the third line while carrying worse linemates. Nylander posted 87 points in 82 games a season ago. Regardless of the switch, his role on the first-line powerplay likely won’t change.

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