Lamoriello Thinks We’ll See William Nylander With The Leafs This Season

Last night, Maple Leafs General Manager Lou Lamoriello appeared on The Fan 590 to discuss the rest of the season as well as the future of the franchise. In a year that has been one of the most trying in terms of the on-ice product, the fans have been willing to live with the losses because we have bought into the plan of the front office. For the first time in a long while, the Maple Leafs appear to be on a well thought out path that involves building from the ground up and requires a tremendous amount of patience. Lou discussed this process and gave a glimmer of light to a fan base that is looking for something to latch on to.

“We have stuck with what we had planned to do, which is sometimes very difficult”

Lamoriello discussed how hard it is to be patient with young talent, especially when they are having a great year and you know they can help your NHL team. Based on merit alone, William Nylander should have been with the Leafs before Christmas. He’s having a historically amazing season in the AHL and would have instantly become the Leafs second or third best player. That’s where the patience comes in. Do you call him up, burn a year of ELC and have him around a losing team? What about the possibility that while he looks ready, maybe he’s not actually there yet?

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“I’ve seen this over the years where a player will go to the minors and play extremely well, you’ll bring him right up but he might not be mentally prepared for the pressures that come with that.”

We all watch Nylander with the Marlies and see how dominant he is, and recognize that the talent level is through the roof, but Lou’s point is right; we can’t possibly know how he will react after being called up. We’d like to assume the transition would be seamless but in the case of this team, it’s likely better to err on the side of caution. The team is bottoming out and while it would be nice to get their franchise cornerstone a taste of the NHL, it makes far more sense to wait “too long” than it does to risk making the move too early.

“Even when you get a player to 100% you always wait a little longer”

Lou also touched on the idea of waiting when it comes to Nylander’s health. He is expected back in the lineup this weekend after sustaining a concussion during the opening game of the World Juniors about one month ago. Lamoriello implied that Nylander has been ready and wanting to play but that the organization has felt that they’d be better off to wait. The team recognizes the importance of Nylander being fully healthy going forward and know that there is absolutely no need whatsoever to take a risk of any kind.

“No I don’t think it’s (the plan for Nylander’s season) has been altered.The plan was exactly the way it’s been”

Even with the injury that has forced him to sit out a month, Lou insists that nothing has changed in terms of their plan for Nylander. It’s been speculated that he would have been up with the Leafs by now or that the original plan to get him NHL time this season has been scrapped. Lamoriello made it clear that that is not true and that not only has the plan remained the same but that we are almost certain to see Nylander and others make their NHL debuts this season.

“I’m sure you’ll see William Nylander like you’ll see a few other players (in the NHL this season)”

Probably the most interesting part of the interview was when Lou was asked about the potential of Nylander playing in the NHL this season. He made it clear that he expects the young Swede, as well as a few of his Marlies teammates to be with the Leafs even if it means the AHL team has to take a step back. The plan is for the development of the future and that will not come at the expense of any Marlie playoff run. That being said the organization will likely base the call-ups around keeping players eligible for the AHL playoffs, not to mention the fact that the Marlies are so good that the loss of two or three players won’t knock them very far down the standings.

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So who are the “few other players” that Lou mentioned? If I had to guess, I would assume we’ll get a glimpse of Brendan Leipsic, Nikita Soshnikov and possibly Zach Hyman sometime after the trade deadline. We all know there are going to be some bodies moved out in the next month, and while there is the possibility that the team takes back dead weight like they did last year with Zach Sill, Lou made it sound like there will be roster spots that will be filled by current Marlies. 

Leipsic looks ready. He has been great in the AHL for two years now and has a skill set that would look awfully nice on the third line of a good team. Soshnikov (or ‘Sosh‘ as he’s affectionately called by the leaders of his fan base here at TLN) has been very good for the Marlies since coming over from the KHL. He likely has a long future with the Leafs and it might be a good idea to get him a taste of the NHL this season with an eye towards next to ensure that he doesn’t long for the better payday and head back to Russia. Hyman, on the other hand, is likely more of an organizational depth guy going forward and his call up would serve as a fourth line filler that won’t have his growth stunted by a lack of playing time. 

I know, I can hear you, “What about Connor Brown?” Brown has been great in his Marlies career but he has missed the vast majority of the year with injury and would likely benefit from staying in the AHL and playing big minutes to make up for lost time. 

What do you think about Lou’s comments about Nylander and the future? And who would you like to see get a call-up? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Benjamin

    The ‘get a taste’ call ups you proposed make a lot of sense. Hopefully Harrington can also get a look if they move a D-man at the deadline (looking at you Polak).

      • Benjamin

        Yeah I wouldn’t think Harrington would jump right into a permanent position. More likely he’d join Corrado and Marincin in their game of pressbox musical chairs.

        That said, at this rate Corrado must’ve killed Babcock’s dog or something. He’s probably not getting into the lineup anytime soon.

        • LeafGuyCarlo

          Babs must be trying to raise Marincin value bc there is no way Marincin plays that much while being that bad. But I believe Loov will be up or Brennan their contracts up next year have to see what you have in them! plus Harrington on 2 way contract he can wait. In a ideal world Polak Marincin Hunwick Phaneuf all gone by dead line! 😀

          • Benjamin

            “In a ideal world Polak Marincin Hunwick Phaneuf all gone by dead line! :D”

            Could you imagine?

            ‘And on defence for the Leafs tonight, Gardiner and Rielly!’

            ‘Wait… what?’

            ‘Yeah they don’t want to mess with the Marlies. And Corrado’s dead, locked in Babcock’s basement.’

          • LeafGuyCarlo

            I’d be the happiest leafs fan alive hell I’d buy a Lamoriello Jersey and wear it daily!!! You’d have Gards Corrado Rielly Percy Loov Brennan Harrington
            Rielly Harrington (who I thought were leafs best D together
            Gards Percy
            Loov Brennan
            Corrado as 7th D
            That lineup is already better than the junk they have now
            all mobile and Loov has some grit so does Brennan surprisingly

          • magesticRAGE

            Babcock likes Corrado, but has done unseen plan for Marincin. I don’t see him being a viable defender moving forward. When Polak is gone, the position is Corrado’s.

            I think Loov is underrated. When (not if) he gets a call up, Babcock will like what he sees (he did in preseason). I’d like to see Valiev get a cup of coffee, but he’s most likely in the AHL next season.

            Brown should get a turn. The guy just came back from injury and hasn’t missed a beat. Give him time, especially after what he did last season, he’s earned it.

            Sosh said he was OK starting with the Marlies, nothing would be on the line if he didn’t go up, but it would be fun to see him on the same line as Komarov.

            I’m glued to this season!

  • Benjamin

    Loov needs to get a look especially bc his contract coming to an end and needs to resign still rfa but would be nice to see what you have in him Would love for Carrick to get some NHL time also see what Babs thinks of him

      • LeafGuyCarlo

        Ah Mr.Hunter you and I disagree a lot! I’ll agree with Carrick but Loov has been great for Marlies and improved yearly will make an excellent 3rd pairing guy

        • Gary Empey

          Nothing has changed. It looks like a lot of TLNers still don’t understand how Babcock evaluates and puts together his team. As for myself I am still learning. His coaching style is different from anything I have ever seen in Toronto. It is taking some time for me to appreciate it. I think at some point we are going to see four balanced lines that other teams will find impossible to stop them all. Even this year already, in 90% of the games we have played, other teams have been forced to play the full 60 minutes to beat us.

          • Harte of a Lion

            Hey Gary, without a doubt Babcock had a few stars/superstars in Detroit but imagine what he might have accomplished with a stable of young talent 25 and under that includes Kadri, Gardiner, Rielly, Zaitsev, Marner, Nylander, Brown, Leipsic, Soshnikov, Timashov, and one of Mathews, Laine or Puljujärvi.

            Between Löov, Harrington, Marincin, Corrado, Valiev, Percy, Holl, Brennan, Nielson, Dermott, Desrocher and whatever gems Hunter and the scouts uncover this June on defence, the Marlies and hence the Leafs are being set up for years of success.

            I know I excluded JVR but I’m hoping N.J. Pulls off a trade JVR + for Zacha ++ Why can’t the Devils see that JVR is the way to go… .

  • LeafGuyCarlo

    corrado will replace polak because harrington has waiver eligibility. put corrado on waivers and we’ll lose him for nothing like the canucks did. might as well see what he has and if he’s not in the long term plans, trade him for assets. nylander, leivo, soshnikov, hopefully arcobello, leipsic, hyman, percy, loov and maybe even brown or kapanen get looks this year before being on the roster long term next year. we will be losing so many games but it’ll be fun watching the young kids get rewarded for their development and success! hope they don’t dismantle the marlies too badly after the deadline…

  • Harte of a Lion

    I could write pages about my Marlies but will just touch on a few players who I think could be call-ups or make the team next year.
    Id rather leave the Marlies alone and let them continue to steamroll through the AHL

    Löov should be resigned, probably a 1 or 2 year contract. Remember this is only his second year in North America. His skating is much improved this year but I believe he needs to improve his first strides and become more explosive from stop to start. Once he is moving, he is a strong powerful skater who has the ability to get back to the d-zone and break up plays. He is putting up fewer points but is far better defensively.
    I see him as a good third pairing guy who can play physical, can also make a great first pass or skate the puck out of danger.

    Justin Holl is the invisible right shooting defence man that nobody knows. He was originally Chicago prospect that seems to have put it together this year. He doesn’t generate many points for himself 3-7-10 in 31 games but is +20. I know plus minus is not a great stat but anyone who watches the Marlies will see he consistently and quietly moves the puck in the right direction and always makes a quality first pass.

    Carrick has battled injuries this year but continues to be one of my favourite Marlies and I hope he gets another opportunity with the Leafs.

    Leipsic started slowly this year but after Nylanders absence for the World Jr’s and his concussion, has taken his game to another level.
    In Janury he is 5-5-10 +3 with 27 shots and he has 3 game winning goals since December 19.

    Hyman has gotten stronger every month and has left Casey Bailey behind in the depth chart.

    I have been promoting Soshnikov since training camp and he seems to be getting stronger each month. He had 14 points in his first 28 games from Oct.-Dec. 31 (10-4-14) as he adjusted to the smaller ice and the North American game however he has taken off in 2016. In January’s 11 games he is 5-4-9 +7 with 22 shots on goal. He has outperformed Panarin at every level at every age in Russia and I believe he has rookie of the year potential depending on what line he plays on and his line mates

    Arcobello deserves another opportunity after tearing up the AHL last week. 5 games, 5-6-11 +8.

    I hope Babcock has an opportunity to work with Brennan next year. Over the past few seasons he has consistently shown he is too talented for the AHL and currently leads the league in points but not sure he will be called up.
    He has a bad habit of running around in his own end under pressure but if his wingers come back for the quick breakout pass like Babs has taught the Leafs, I am certain his talent will translate to the NHL. His shot won’t put fear on anyone blocking it but it’s very accurate and he has the ability to get it through traffic and on net.

    Lastly, I hope they give Frattin one more chance. After his knee injury, I’m not certain he will ever have that explosive speed that gave him the ability to cut to the net from the outside but he has an accurate shot and is fearless going to the net.

    This just scratches the surface of the remarkable talent Dubas has kept and acquired in 12 months. Last season this team came from last place December 1 to 7th in their conference and made the playoffs while almost knocking off a very good Griffins team. This run was fuelled by Brown with the mid season additions of Nylander, Leipsic and reacquiring Brennan.

    The Leafs season may seem bleak but good times are just around the corner and I believe the talent exists within the organization already to begin the journey back to respectability.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs, playoff bound 2017 and onward.

    I want to take a moment and express my heartfelt thanks so I’ll end this by saying Thank you Mr Shanahan, Mr Lamoriello, Mr. Dubas, Mr. Babcock, Mr.. Lemaire, Mr. Hunter and all the coaches, scouts, trainers and everyone who signed on because they believe in the ShanaPlan… I BeLeaf

  • Gary Empey

    I love your enthusiasm. If I still lived in Toronto I would have my season tickets to the Marlies for sure. For any fan of hockey it is great entertainment at an affordable price.

    I am always amazed at the poor marketing job done by ownership.

    The Toronto media virtually ignores the Marlies. This is in a market where hockey is king of sports.

    As for who may be coming up next year to join the Leafs, I will save that one for later. There are a lot of variables we just don’t know yet, regarding what jobs will become available. Lately, I keep thinking about what Babcock said at last years training camp. For a rookie to make the leafs he must out preform a veteran. Tie goes to the vet. Last year Babcock felt none of the rookies were better than the vets. The Russian Rocket’s question “What’s Changed” has got me thinking. We are all expecting changes, but none have happened yet. There will be new UFA’s out there at the end of this year. Who will the Leafs sign if any? What happens with Marner? Can he make the jump right out of junior? He is not eligible for the AHL next year.

    • Harte of a Lion

      Unless Marner comes to camp at 180 lbs with legs like tree stumps, I see no benefit to him playing for the Leafs. I would send him to Zurich or Frolunda, let him play against men and get stronger. There will be nothing gained by having him play in the OHL. To burn a year of his entry level contract in the NHL would be a waste.
      With the resources MLSE HAVE, they should buy a team in Sweden or Finland and have another development option.
      In the event they find some undrafted gems, they would have an inside track.

      • magesticRAGE

        it’s more likely marner makes the leafs out of training camp as he on pace to break last year’s insane point production… he has nothing left to learn in the ohl vs kids. maybe he’ll spend half a season in london again and then join the leafs because putting up back to back 120+ point seasons = too good for the ahl. hell, putting up one 100+ season = too good for the ohl but guys like strome/marner got sent back because their teams are in rebuilds and don’t want to waste contract years. they’re in no rush to put their stars in the nhl. strome will be in the nhl next year. marner is smaller but he weighs more and is taller than nhl leading scorer kane and top 10 scorer gaudreau… if he plays wing, he’ll be fine. he’s still a teenager so his body is still adjusting. he’ll be ok. he’s been shifty his whole life. it’ll be an adjustment vs men but i think he’ll be fine once he gets used to the nhl vs men.

        • Gary Empey

          All the conversation on Marner and his size takes me back to a young player who I watched intently because of his hockey prowess that played for St.Louis, on to Calgary and then the Leafs who had to fill up on pasta every game to reach 160 lbs. The players name was Doug Gilmour.

  • magesticRAGE

    I’m sure the idea of bringing up a number of youngsters in the last 25 games or so has been in the plans from day one. M.L.S.E. and particularly Rogers is hemmrrhaging big time. Let us not forget that for M.L.S.E. it has and will always be about business. Winning at the bank is priority number one. Could you imagine how much money Rogers will lose if no Canadian city makes the playoffs and the way Montreal is sinking this is a strong possibility

    But I totally agree that some of the youngsters getting some N.H.L. experience will be valuable. The youngsters will indeed create some positive hype badly needed by leaf management. I recently heard one of the more respected media personalities namely Bob MacKenzie explain that he had not seen the lack of interest in the leafs in the big smoke this bad for more than a decade. This isn’t coincidental as the club has only the one playoff experience and that was the incredulous third period melt down against Boston.

    As others have pointed out the tanking is in full force so the worst we will probably do is get the fourth pick depending how the lottery numbers turn up.

    I took in the Cherry v.s. Orr top forty game and thus it was the first time I had seen Alexander Nylander in person who is 6 feet and 180 lbs. but looks bigger and just has that scoring presence with the way he skates out there. The leaf management should seriously consider Chychrun who is a stud on defence and plays just a superb positional game. This is a guy the leafs could team with Rielly as a top two. Should the leafs drop to third or fourth I would pick Chychrun.

    One final comment I also took in today a fund raiser for under privilege youngsters to learn the game of baseball as it is sponsored by the single A Jays affiliate the Vancouver Canadian baseball club and the Toronto blue jay baseball Caravan.

    I was glad to pay the $75.00 luncheon fee however I wasn’t impressed with only the new G.M. a guy who is still struggling to make the Jays namely Dalton Pompey and roving hitting instructor Tim Raines showing up as the baseball people to talk to the 700 plus crowd.

    The point I’m making is that it came as no surprise as a previous poster pointed out that Rogers, Bell and Larry really need some serious marketing skills in promoting their sports teams including the leafs.

  • magesticRAGE

    The general feeling is that there are 15 solid prospects to be drafted this june with the top 5 being excellent prospects. With the strong possibility of having Pittsburgh’s first, the leaf management might want to try to wheel and deal to try to get another team to give up one of those 9 to 15 picks for the Pittsburgh pick and a leaf player possibly as good as J.V.R. I think of Lou Lamerrello giving up his tenth pick for Canuck goalie Schneider who is going to the all-star game. The Canucks are extremely pleased with the continuing improvement of young Horvath. So hopefully with all the brains in the gaggle of leaf upper management this might be a method of obtaining a second solid prospect in this year’s draft. Just saying.

  • Harte of a Lion


    I saw Marner play a few weeks ago in a Knights vs Mississauga game where I had hoped to see Marner vs Nylander shoot out the lights. Neither did.
    What I did notice was Marner seems small and is very easy to knock off the puck I think it is due to him being 160 pounds, and that’s being generous.

    If snizzbone can put on 25 pounds of muscle over a summer, (he looked huge at the rookie camp) let’s hope Marner can do the same.
    A 165 in adult has a different physiological make-up to a 165 pound teen and my main concern would be him getting hurt.

    He is very shifty and puck smart but if he were to get hit by 230 pounds of opposing player, he may never get up again.
    The NHL moves so much faster and he needs experience to bridge that gap.

    Let him go play centre for Zurich and Mark Crawford since they will lose Mathews at this years draft

    You are right in believing there is nothing left for him to learn at the OHL level unless London puts him at centre and keeps him there every game/shift for the entire season.

    • Harte of a Lion

      Gary as I was saying, an adult has a different physiological makeup than a teen who is still growing and maturing. If Marner can get his playing weight up to 175-180, I think he can survive and hopefully thrive.
      Remember he is still only 18 and can’t play in the AHL until the 2018/19 season

      Still think the Leafs should buy a SHL team for Marners development