TLN Top 20 Prospects 2016: #3 William Nylander


William “Bill Ny” Nylander is the 3rd ranked player in this year’s TLN Top 20 Prospects. Called by many the most skilled player in his draft year (which looks like it could prove to be true), the Leafs were ecstatic to select this young Swedish player, the son of former NHLer Michael Nylander. Since joining the Maple Leafs, Bill Ny has done nothing but impress.

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The Votes

Jeff Ryan H. Shawn Ryan F. Adam Dom Jess Katy Readers
3 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

Nylander was ranked #1 in our 2014 summer list and #2 in 2015.

Yes, I was the only one to rank Nylander 2nd in this year’s rankings. I intend to break down the specifics of this in a future post when it’s revealed what order the top 2 are. But I’m certainly in the minority here, as there are 3’s across the rest of the board.

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Player Bio

Position Hometown Height Weight Hand 2015 Team Acquired
C/RW Calgary, AB 5’11 188 Right Toronto Marlies 2014 Draft (1-8th)

The Stats

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 2008-09 12  Team Maryland Bantam Minor  AYMBHL 28 25 26 51 N/A 12  
 2010-11 14  Chicago Mission Bantam Major AAA  T1EBHL 29 34 27 61 N/A 8  
 2011-12 15  SDE HF J18  J18 Elit 18 12 14 26 18.95 14 14
  15  Södertälje SK U16  U16 SM 3 3 4 7 N/A 4 6
  15  Södertälje SK J18  J18 Allsvenskan 9 7 5 12 17.49 2 0
  15  Södertälje SK J20  SuperElit 8 1 3 4 8.2 2 -8
  15  Sweden U16 (all)  International-Jr 7 4 7 11 N/A 4 6
  15  Sweden U17 (all)  International-Jr 3 0 0 0 N/A 4 -1
 2012-13 16  Södertälje SK J18  J18 Elit 1 2 1 3 39.36 2 2
  16  Södertälje SK J20  SuperElit 27 15 28 43 26.11 14 14
  16  Södertälje SK  Allsvenskan 8 4 2 6 49.2 2 2
  16  Sweden U17  WHC-17 6 2 8 10 N/A 2  
  16  Sweden U17 (all)  International-Jr 3 2 3 5 N/A 2 0
  16  Sweden U18  WJC-18 5 2 1 3 N/A 2 2
  16  Sweden U18 (all)  International-Jr 10 4 2 6 N/A 4 2
 2013-14 17  MODO Hockey J20  SuperElit 3 0 3 3 16.4 4 -1
  17  MODO Hockey  SHL 22 1 6 7 15.65 6 -3
  17  Rögle/Södertälje  Allsvenskan 35 15 12 27 50.61 16 2
  17  Sweden U18  WJC-18 7 6 10 16 N/A 0 8
 2014-15 17  Sweden U18 (all)  International-Jr 14 12 13 25 N/A 6 11
  18  MODO Hockey   SHL 21 8 12 20 46.85 6 3
  18  Toronto Marlies  AHL 37 14 18 32 33.3 4 8
  18  Sweden U20  WJC-20 7 3 7 10 64.42 0 -2
 2015-16 18  Sweden U20 (all)  International-Jr 12 5 13 18 N/A 2 1
  19  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL 22 6 7 13 48.45 4 1
  19  Toronto Marlies  AHL 38 18 27 45 45.64 10 7
  19  Sweden U20   WJC-20 1 1 0 1 45.1 0 2
  19  Sweden U20 (all)  International-Jr 2 1 1 2 N/A 0 1

Finally, we have a prospect with enough NHL games to utilize possession stats. Last season, Nylander posted a (5v5 Score, Zone and Venue adjusted) rel CF% of +3.12, but only a rel xGF% of -4.23. That’s a stark difference, one of the largest discrepancies I’ve seen. xGF% has a stronger correlation to winning than Corsi does because it includes data for shot location, an attempt to estimate shot quality. This is a function of Nylander being last on the Maple Leafs in individual average shot distance. He’ll have to get to better areas of the ice in order to start having a positive impact on winning. This should be something that comes with age and comfortability in the NHL.

By traditional stats, Nylander has dominated the SHL and AHL, averaging 0.82 P/GP in the SHL and over 1 P/GP in the AHL. He also had a strong outing in the NHL with 13 points in 22 games. There’s no question he’s an offensive threat, with a dangerous shot and elite vision. I have no doubts that he’ll be a very producive NHL player, possibly verging on elite (my definition of elite is pretty tight company).

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Projection Stats

25 (13/18) 22 (7/18) 88.0% (1/18) 0.65 (4/18) 53.08 (4/18) 56.96 (1/18)

  • pGPSn: The number of matches between the subject and the player-seasons (one season by a single player, i.e, John Tavares 2008 OHL) in the historical sample.
  • pGPSs: The number of statistical matches that became NHL regulars. This is determined by playing 200 NHL games.
  • pGPS%: Simply s divided by n, this is the percentage of statistical matches that successfully became NHL players.
  • pGPS PPG: The NHL points per game of successful matches.
  • pGPS P82: The same as pGPS PPG, but stretched over 82 games.
  • pGPSr: A bit of a hybrid number, this pGPS Rating combines the percentage and points per game to produce a number that includes both likelihood of success and potential upside.

Based on the success of his historical comparables, Nylander is projected to become a top-six forward.

To learn more about the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, check out this post.

Nylander ranks 1st of the Leafs skaters on this list in pGPS% and pGPSr, the more important two statistics. This leaves me incredibly excited, that there’s a very strong indication that Nylander will not only make it to the NHL (duh) but will have a high-level of production over his career.

The Eye Test

Nylander is a smooth-skating, intelligent, pretty-passing, accurate-shooting, and altogether dynamic offensive player. He is dominant in controlling the puck and creating chances in the offensive zone. He’s such a joy to watch because the creativity he brings is far even from many of the current offensive superstars in the NHL. He’s a different type of amazing than an Ovechkin or a Stamkos, but he’s amazing all the same. I won’t surprised at all to see him approach that level of offensive impact for the Maple Leafs over the course of his career. Yes, I believe he’s that good. Also I said approach. I’m not telling you he’ll score 60 goals. But I am telling you he’ll be freaking good.

Other eye test elements include the other side of the puck – defense. I’m not going to try to tell you he’ll play like Patrice Bergeron. However, his puck control ability should allow him to keep the puck out of his own zone; I believe he’ll be a Zuccarello-type player that still has a positive defensive impact despite being only okay at actual defensive zone play.

As Seen on TV

The Buildup

In his draft+1 year, Nylander started the year in Sweden with MODO, which I felt was the right move development-wise at the time. When MODO was beginning to suffer as a hockey team, the Leafs felt it pertinent to move Nylander to North America to play for the Marlies. He has since spent 1.5 seasons with them, eclipsing production expectations for players of that age in the AHL. His point-per-game pace is definitively elite at that level. He also got that taste in the NHL, and it was largely successful, so I fully expect him to be hungry for more.

Next Season

Unlike most of the prospects in this series, there’s no reason to think Nylander won’t be in the NHL next season. It’s pretty clear that, barring a horrid training camp, he’ll be on the team. So the question becomes, how will he do?

I think 60 points with a positive Corsi REL is a reasonable set of expectations. I’m not sure he fixes the xGF issue next year, that could take some time to build the strength and comfortability to get to those homeplate scoring areas. That point total would be higher than most of the rest of the Maple Leafs have ever achieved. So, the expectations from me are high. He should fill a top 6 role by season’s end, especially once some of the pending UFAs have been moved out. I think he’ll surprise a lot of people who are unfamiliar with just how good he has been since the Leafs acquired him. I’m getting giddy here just writing about it.

Closing Thoughts

Like I said, I’ll be following this up soon with a comparison between my #3 (who may or may not be Mitch Marner) and Nylander to justify it. I wanted to keep this profile just about the player and not about his competition. Either way, I think I’ve successfully conveyed, at minimum, how excited I am for William Nylander’s upcoming season and future with the Maple Leafs.

We’ll finish this week with the top 2, so please stay tuned for those!

The Rankings So Far

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  • Kanuunankuula

    Controversy! Though I agree with your 2nd place vote (and please, everyone now knows the order, MM is #2), Nylander has already proven to be a capable NHLer.

  • magesticRAGE

    I’m so with you, Bill Nye is #2! His skill set is undeniable and dynamic, and all usable. His brain operates so fast and at a high level. His upper and low torso operate separately, yet in unison. How does a kid that big, have such an awesome slapshot?

    Marner is a really good player, and very shifty, but most of his attributes fail in comparison.

  • Capt.Jay

    It’s nice to have 2 prospects that are so good we can argue over who is 2 and who is 3. Both are amazing in their own right.

    Coupled with the fact there is another even better at number 1. Gold.

  • magesticRAGE

    nylander would be #1 in 29 organizations right now yet he’s #3 on the leafs. incredible. I think he’ll be a future all star and elite player in the nhl who flirts with a ppg more than once in his career. I see him hitting at last 50 points this year and winning th Calder trophy. he’s that good. the league has no idea. I can’t wait.

  • JB#1

    He has tremendous skills and his wrist shot is so deceiving. I the little clip it was in the net before I was even aware of it. After saying all that I have also been absolutely amazed with MM’s hardware collection last year, like guys it was as if there were no other players in the same league. He too has immense skills and his ability to find players to give the puck to is just sic. So here we are, how many of the prospect list will really play for the Leafs this year out of training camp?

    • magesticRAGE

      Some of the little tricks Marner uses won’t fly in the NHL, let alone the AHL. Some of his offense won’t transfer, regardless of his trophies, and I hope he knows this. He needs to develop his shot too score on NHL goalies, and leg strength to solidify his base (when NHL defenders lean on him). Looking forward to see what he can do.