Countdown to Nylander

Now that William Nylander has sole possession of the AHL scoring lead as a 19-year-old with 23 points in just 17 games, it seems the debate over his place in the league is being stirred up more and more every day. With the parent Leafs dying for scoring help, and the young Swede looking like a destroyer of worlds with the Marlies, you have to figure there’s also been a lot of internal discussion around whether he’s ready for the bigger stage. 

If there isn’t really anything left for Nylander to learn in the minors – and it appears there isn’t – he should take a step forward in competition. But it looks like the Leafs will wait a little longer to make that move, at least until the new year, where they’ll benefit from giving him a second-half debut.


This is an interesting tweet from Pronman that’s been making the rounds since yesterday, but what does it mean?

Well, we all know the Leafs will burn a year of Nylander’s entry-level contract (ELC) if he’s called up and plays 10-or-more games this season. It’s perhaps the main reason fans want to hold off on bringing him up, and that’s totally reasonable. Plus the sooner you bring him up, the sooner you have him go to free agency, presumably. 

But that last part isn’t entirely true.

If the Leafs recall Nylander and he sticks (which he will), he can play 39 regular season games this season and have his unrestricted free agency status slide a season. He’ll still ring off a year of his ELC and have negotiate a new contract in 2018, but as for the seven accrued seasons he needs to hit unrestricted free agency, he won’t scratch off one of those yet. 

Why? Because the NHL/PA collective bargaining agreement defines an accrued season as such:

“Accrued Season” means any League Year during which a Player was on a Club’s Active Roster for 40 (30 if the Player is a goalie) or more Regular Season Games, provided that, for the purposes of calculating an Accrued Season under this Agreement, games missed due to a hockey-related injury incurred while on a Club’s Active Roster shall count as games played for purposes of calculating an Accrued Season but only during the League Year in which the injury was incurred and a maximum of one additional season.

It took a while, but I’ve crunched the numbers, and it looks like 39 games is 43 fewer than 82. So after game 43 of this regular season, Nylander can make the jump to the Leafs and play out the rest of the schedule.

As Pronman pointed out, this would put his debut (assuming it went down this way) near the third week of January. Actually, game number 44 of the Leafs’ regular season is January 19th against the Flyers in Philadelphia, so that’s the real countdown date.

The arguments over whether Nylander deserves a promotion will rage on as he continues to lay waste to the AHL, and considering his ELC would take a hit this season, folks are still going to be concerned about it. But with his UFA status continuing to “slide” for a year, this late-January date for his first appearance makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he pulls on the Leafs sweater some time around then. 

Now the Leafs and Nylander just need to decide on what jersey number he’ll wear so I can throw my credit card at them. 

  • CMpuck

    This reminds me of when Ottawa kept Spezza in the AHL for two seasons.

    Would love to see Nylander put up triple digits with a full season as a Marlie.

    Also, if they brought Willie up and he remains dominant, does Alexanders get a higher draft ranking? If the Leafs finish out of a top four draft spot would like to draft him.

    • Corno4

      This does seem like what they did with his first year in the AHL (43 games) and then called up for 33 NHL games, but the only reason Spezza had a > 100 point AHL season was because he was waiver exempt still during the 05-06 lockout

  • magesticRAGE

    One thought about McDavid present injury should put things in perspective for any impatient fan.
    The point is not whether he is good enough ,(he is)

    One year more of development in the Marlies will make him physically stronger and more able to handle the physical aspect of the NHL.
    Successful playoffs with the Marlies would be a great
    experience for him and the rest of the prospects in the Marlies and would help establish a winning culture within the whole team.

    As well it is a matter of timing in the salary cap era.
    The Leafs need to look at what has happened in Chicago and try to avoid having to trade personnel
    after a successful season. There is a great advantage paying developed players what they are worth
    -instead of over paying players for their unactualized potential.

    • magesticRAGE

      The McDavid situation is kind of a poor example of why not to bring Nylander up. That could have happened to anyone. That could have happened to Chara. The hockey gods just hate the Oilers so of course it had to be McDavid. The rest of your argument I agree with. Winning a calder cup is hardly going to hurt his development. Then again, if it is clear to management that the Marlies could win the cup without Nylander, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t bring him up starting with game #44.

  • jasken

    Nylander should not come up until after the trade deadline for numerous reasons.

    Maintaining his rookie status for next season.
    This team although has picked up good habits can regress at anytime.

    Nylander might be ready for the Leafs but they are not ready for him. It’s about repetitiveness on doing things right when it becomes second nature to every player on the team that’s when you start giving the AHL’ers a chance.

  • magesticRAGE

    Since the likes of Leipsic and Kapanen are more likely to be his long term teammates rather than Boyes and Parentau and what not it would be better to let them develop as a group together rather than individuals. This will benefits the players and club in the long term more so by letting the kids win and lose together as a team.

  • magesticRAGE

    Keep Willie on the Marlies for the remainder of the season.
    – he is still learning to play without the puck
    – he is helping other Marlies develop
    – players like Lievo and Carrick need contracts, gotta see if they stick in NHL roles first
    – everyone knows that playoff hockey is a different animal, and Nylander doesn’t have much experience

    Players like Kapanen would do good playing alongside Nylander, as Nylander would benefit working on dominating the draws.

    My 2 cents

  • magesticRAGE

    Keep Willie on the Marlies for the remainder of the season.
    – he is still learning to play without the puck
    – he is helping other Marlies develop
    – players like Lievo and Carrick need contracts, gotta see if they stick in NHL roles first
    – everyone knows that playoff hockey is a different animal, and Nylander doesn’t have much experience

    Players like Kapanen would do good playing alongside Nylander, as Nylander would benefit working on dominating the draws.

    My 2 cents

  • magesticRAGE

    Leave him with the Marlies.
    50something games is a decent sample, but he really only has 17 AHL games in the Babcock era, playing the Babcock way under Keefe.

    The Leafs need scoring… so what?
    That should be the last thing on their minds, considering the Leafs aren’t a playoff team anyway, so rushing their prospects is the equivalent of claiming a Gerber off waivers.
    Worse actually, since rushing Nylander could hurt his development and his confidence.
    Let him get more than enough seasoning in the AHL.
    Better to err on the side of caution.

  • TGT23

    I just don’t think the Leafs should bring him up at least until after the deadline if not until next season.

    Part of that is because they should probably spend as much time as they can seeing what they have with the present roster. You know Nylander is part of the future. Spend your time this season seeing if anyone else is. Nylander in the NHL takes ice-time away from someone on the bubble and they really need to see what they have so they can decide who to trade and who to keep.

    The other part is… why? What’s the point? Stick to the plan. If the plan is for him to be in the AHL all year coming out of pre-season then it stays the plan now. Let him destroy the AHL.

    It would be fun to watch him in the NHL. I’m sure some people are just waiting for him to come up so that, should he struggle, they can hate on him. But, really, there is no point. If he were truly the missing piece for this team as it is right now and winning a cup… we wouldn’t be in Y1 of a rebuild.

    We’ll see him next year, maybe Brown as well, and Marner the next. Not to mention who knows who else. The Leafs are quietly building one heck of a farm system. Patience is key.

  • SEER

    I like the way they are being patient with him.. and waiting for a natural spot position to open up, around trade deadline..

    Let him continue to dominate the AHL for the time being.. It will only charge him up even more, to make a harder push when he does come up..

    And yes.., I think his brother Alex should be a high draft consideration.. The kid might be even further along, than Willy.., too.. ……………………………………………………….

    Another star on the Marlies right now is Garret Sparks.. Pretty impressive stats, so far…

    Here’s a new video for him:

    Sweet & Wild: Garret Sparks 2014 & 2015 Extended Highlights……..

    –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGmDHbBxcCU

  • magesticRAGE

    I don’t get why people are in a rush to Have Nylander join the Leafs. Are your attention spans that bad that you need him to come up to the Leafs so they will score more but hurt his development in the process. When Leafs Management feels he’s ready then they will bring him up to the big club. There are things Nylander has to work on & learn still. And he still needs to get better at playing at the defensive side of the game without the puck. He also needs to get stronger. He’s not ready yet. He’s getting close though. Leave him on the Marlies & he can join the Leafs next year

  • magesticRAGE

    I’ll hold off until next year before I get on the #freewilly bandwagon. Let him tear up the AHL and get a full NHL rookie season so he can earn the Calder trophy…

  • Gary Empey

    I am glad to see most people here agree there is no room on the Leafs for the scoring leader in the AHL.

    As Mark Gregory said, we certainly don’t want Chicago’s problem of constantly winning Stanley Cups.

  • magesticRAGE

    Nylander and the rest of the prospects need to learn how to be champions, to grind through round after round of playoffs. Leafs management also need to find out who are the warriors. Who can be the Bobby Baun score the winning goal with a broken leg type players who knew how to win cups. These guys are auditioning for the next Leafs dynasty.