There has been a lot of talk and criticism about William Nylander’s performance since he signed his six-year deal on December 1st.
A good portion of fans and media have laid into him, saying he’s playing terribly and that the Leafs should have traded him when they could have.
A lot of others hold firm on Nylander actually being one of the best offensive contributors for the Leafs since he rejoined the lineup, it’s just that he’s been brutally unlucky.
I myself lean more into the second camp, but for very different reasons: I think Nylander isn’t scoring on purpose. And I think Dubas told him to do it.
This isn’t some conspiracy theory. I have evidence. Join me as we venture down this wormhole together.
First, let’s look at Nylander. We’ll get to the “why Dubas would do this” in a second.
NYLANDER IS REALLY GOOD
The biggest argument I can make is simply that Willy is 22 years old and is coming off back-to-back 61 point seasons. He’s a high-end player and projects to possibly become very elite. Doesn’t pass the smell test that he’s now a .16 points/game player.
Stats as of 202 GP
Nylander* (22) 138P 463 Shots 11GWG
Kucherov** (22) 138P 474 Shots 9GWG
* Has no heart? (doesn’t go into dirty areas)
** Became a really good player as predicted
— Active Stick (@TheOakLeafs) January 17, 2019
HE’S “MISSING” WIDE OPEN NETS
How many times has Willy created a grade A chance, just to shoot and miss the net? How many times has he created tons of time and space, just to pass to Zach “Stone Hands” Hyman?
No one in their right mind would pass to Zach Hyman in the offensive zone if they wanted to get an assist on a goal.
HE’S CREATING CHANCES AT A CRAZY RATE
In fact, in terms of estimated primary shot contribution rates, Nylander has been Toronto’s best. pic.twitter.com/DI5bTMcxNY
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) January 20, 2019
All of Willy’s underlying numbers are ridiculous. He is creating crazy amounts of offense. We are just supposed to believe that he’s still a zone entry wizard, generating chances like crazy, but somehow just can’t score anymore? Doesn’t make sense.
Okay, so we’ve established that Willy is great. My words and succinct communication skills have convinced you of such.
The big question is:
WHY WOULD DUBAS TELL NYLANDER NOT TO SCORE?
It’s simple: Matthews and Marner and their current/upcoming contract negotiations.
By having Nylander’s numbers fall off, it tells Marner and Matthews that they shouldn’t hold out and put money as their top concern – because if they do, they’re going to suddenly be bad and the media will have it out for them. It’s an elaborate plan from our genius GM. Lou could never come up with something like this.
Think about it: the media has their pitchforks out for Willy, saying he’s not worth the deal, he shouldn’t have held out, etc, etc. You don’t think that scares our other star RFAs? I know it would scare me.
Someone is playing 4D chess. And it looks like we are witnessing Dubas’s evolution into the best contract negotiator in the league.
Either that or Nylander orchestrated all of this himself so that he doesn’t end up with a drastically smaller piece of the pie than Matthews or Marner.