After the 2014 NHL Draft, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis gushed that William Nylander “might be the most skilled player” of all 210 players selected. Seeing the eighth overall pick in action during the Maple Leafs’ prospects camp did little to kill that excitement, as the Toronto Star reports.
“He is as advertised,” Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott said. “The only thing he has to work on is getting bigger and stronger and that’s going to come in time.”
Indeed, the Maple Leafs do seem concerned about the 18-year-old prospect (and son of former NHL player Michael Nylander) being too small to handle the rigors of high-level hockey. NHL.com lists Nylander at 5-foot-11, 169 lbs. Even if he beefs up during the offseason, it’s understandable if the Leafs take a cautious approach with the talented forward.
As Nylander told NHL.com earlier this week, his goal is to make the jump right away. Beyond growing up around the sport, he also grew up quite a bit last season playing for Modo in Sweden.
“Playing against men might’ve helped me a bit,” Nylander said. “I haven’t been at the NHL level yet, so maybe it’ll probably give me a little bit of an advantage against guys that have been playing junior. Otherwise it’ll be a tough step.”
The opportunity could be there, at least, as team exec Brendan Shanahan notes that there’s “possibly” a job to be won (whether it be by Nylander or another NHL hopeful).
For more on some of the standout Maple Leafs prospects, check out the Toronto Star’s rundown.