Toronto Maple Leafs: Nylander & Conforto Have A Lot In Common

Toronto Maple Leafs fans had hoped that William Nylander would be indestructible and lighting up the scoreboard, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Unfortunately, it’s par for the course when you miss training camp, pre-season and a decent amount of regular season games. Of course, it was Nylander’s decision to be absent from team events until December 1, 2018. But, that’s not necessarily Nylander’s fault. He was holding out and waiting for a “fair offer” given his performance over the past couple of seasons.

On December 1st, Nylander signed a six year contract extension. His six year extension carries a 6.9 million dollar (USD) cap hit. Nylander’s cap hit is slightly less than Vladimir Tarasenko‘s cap hit, but higher than Johnny Gaudreau, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall‘s cap hit. 

Nylander’s Performance To Date

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After 20 games played, he has tallied 1 goal (the goal was at even strength), 3 assists, 2.9 shooting percentage (S%), 14:53 average time on ice (ATOI), a 55.1 corsi-for percentage (CF%) and a 54.7 offensive zone start percentage (oZS%). Honestly, his numbers aren’t great. It’s really hard to sugar-coat it. With his performance on the ice, many Leafs fans have been rather unhappy with him. 

Some Leafs fans have felt that he’s not a team-player and that he’s not putting in enough effort. While, I along with many fans haven’t been thrilled that Nylander hasn’t been lighting up the lamp, I understand that it’s going to take time. With Nylander missing many games and camp, it’s going to take some more time before he shows his true colours.

Yet, this shouldn’t be surprising. When holdouts or long injuries occur in sports, there usually are a few metaphorical bumps and bruises that take place on the way back to full recovery from a productivity stand-point. In fact, Michael Conforto of the New York Mets had a similar issue.

Michael Conforto

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Last season, Conforto missed spring training and nine regular season games. While he finished the season with a line of .243/.350/.448 (Batting Average/On Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage) and 28  home-runs and 82 RBIs (Runs Batted In), it took Conforto a while to get to the point where he was truly productive. 

It took him a while to regain his power stroke. Until late July, Conforto’s slugging percentage was awful. He wasn’t seeing the ball well and he sported a slugging percentage below .400. But, in late July everything changed. It was if all he needed was time and patience. Around July 21st, Mets fans started to see Conforto bust out of his slump and return to his old self. 

At The End of The Day

While hockey is far different than baseball, if you miss time preparing for the season, you are likely to have a set-back in terms of your performance. So, before Toronto Maple Leafs fans offer to pay for an Uber to get Nylander out of Toronto, I’d ask for Leafs fans to wait and stay patient. Good things come to those who wait and Nylander will get out of his slump. 

stats from and

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

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