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The Countdown: 5 best William Nylander moments as a Maple Leaf

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
6 months ago
William Nylander wants to win a Stanley Cup and retire a Toronto Maple Leaf. After signing a massive eight-year $92 million contract, the Swedish forward admitted Toronto feels like home now and he’s happy to be sticking around for, what looks like, the rest of his career.
Nylander’s contract holds a full no-movement clause for the entire duration and pays him $11.5 million per season until he’s 36 years old. The Countdown this week is dedicated to five of the Swede’s best moments as a Maple Leaf:

All Started With a Pick

The Maple Leafs drafting Nylander seems like the perfect place to start. Heading into the 2014 NHL Entry Draft there was a ton of attention on a smooth-skating forward from Sweden who was the son of former player Michael Nylander. Besides that, the casual Leafs fan didn’t know much else about him.

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Thanks to the likes of Don Cherry, everybody wanted the Maple Leafs to select rugged forward Nick Ritchie at the #8 slot, however, the Leafs and GM Dave Nonis had other ideas. Toronto selected Nylander at #8 and passed up on the likes of Nik Ehlers, Kevin Fiala, Ritchie, Dylan Larkin, Alex Tuch, and David Pastrnak to name a few.

The King of Stockholm

The Maple Leafs are loaded with Swedish players and Nylander is certainly the biggest name of the bunch. Toronto was lucky enough to participate in the NHL’s Global Series late last year in Stockholm and frankly, it was Nylander’s world and we were all just living in it.
The Calgary-born, but Swedish resident was the King of Stockholm for the entire week. From making appearances at the Fan Fest to cutting interviews on several different talk shows, Nylander made his rounds but he also was lights out on the ice. He entered the global series on a 15-game point streak and along with Tyler Bertuzzi and John Tavares, dominated the first game against the Detroit Red Wings.
What was to come during the global series finale? Nylander would casually score a beautiful goal on Minnesota Wild netminder Marc-Andre Fleury to win the game in OT and send everyone home from Stockholm:

Nylander Arrives in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Maple Leafs haven’t made it passed the second-round for a very long time, however don’t blame Nylander for any of it. He’s had great success throughout his postseason career, including 25 points in his last 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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It all started with this beauty against the Washington Capitals back in 2017 as Nylander buried his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal. Take it away, Joe Bowen:

Nylander Has the Clutch Gene

While there hasn’t been a ton of playoff success just yet, there have certainly been some moments of brilliance for Nylander and the Leafs. Circle back to last season when the Florida Panthers were up in the second-round series 3-1 and during game 5 were up 2-1 with just over four minutes left in the game. Nylander took a John Tavares neutral-zone pass, flew into the Panthers zone and showed off some unreal hockey IQ.
As he came flying in, instead of circling around the net, which he had done a couple of times during the series, Nylander instead decided to flip one on net quick and caught an unexpected Sergei Bobrovsky leaning away from his post, giving Nylander top corner short side to shoot at. It was a thing of beauty.

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And for today’s final moment of our Nylander countdown, let’s circle back to the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs as Nylander decided he was going to take over Game 5 vs the Lightning. With the game tied 2-2 in the third period, #88 rips once past his #88 counterpart and sends Scotiabank Arena, Maple Leafs Square, and the rest of Leafs Nation into an absolute frenzy. This is one of the best pops to ever come out of a Maple Leafs game.

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Nylander is an absolutely perfect fit for the Toronto market and he’s going to do whatever he can to bring a Stanley Cup home. Another eight years for #88, the historic contract is certainly going to come with lofty expectations but considering what we’ve already seen out of Nylander to this point, he should be just fine.

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