Nylander Working Overtime On His Game

What’s the main area of focus when it comes to William Nylander’s quest to improve his game? Spoiler alert: it’s not one thing.

What’s the main area of focus when it comes to William Nylander’s quest to improve his game? Spoiler alert: it’s not one thing.

His time in the NHL is less than 20 games. His future in the league indeed seems bright. But, despite a lack of experience and seasoning, the 19-year-old Nylander is already thinking like a veteran as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I think every aspect of the game can be improved,” said the eighth overall pick in the 2014 Entry Draft. “There's nothing single that I try to work on. It's everything.”

“He’s very influential, he’s helped me every day,” said William, of the 15-season NHL veteran. “He helped me a lot both on and off the ice.”

In 2012-13, William led his junior team with 43 points, including 15 goals, in 27 regular-season contests before he suited up with his father on Sodertalje, the club’s professional team.

“He's always helped me over the years teaching me – especially playing with him, going on the ice early, 30 minutes before practice, working on small things, stick handling, shooting, and then the gym afterwards and before practice,” said William. “There are lots (of memories), just sitting in front of the TV watching him play, going in the locker rooms after games, going to the practice facility. I've grown up around the rink.”

William struck gold with Sweden at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, leading the tournament with eight assists and tied for second in scoring with 10 points in six games. He also represented his country at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, the 2013 Under-18 World Championship and 2014 IIHF World U18 Championships.

Nylander has impressed with the Toronto Marlies in 2015-16. In 37 games with the Maple Leafs American Hockey League affiliate, he tallied 18 goals and recorded 45 points.

His first NHL goal came on March 5, 2016, against the Ottawa Senators. Brooks Laich, who notched an assist, also had a helper on William Nylander’s final NHL goal.

While he has a ways to go to reach the number of games his father played in, Toronto’s bright young star, the one several scouts tabbed as the most talented player in the 2014 draft, is eager to follow in his skates.

“It's a really cool thing to hear from all the scouts,” he said with a grin. “That's something that I try to keep on working on every day. It's nothing I take for granted.”