Nylander is the new Kessel
William Nylander is the new Phil Kessel. I don’t mean he loves hot dogs and he’s outta shape. I don’t mean he is a fast perimeter player who is afraid to go to the front of the net. I don’t mean he is soft on the ice and under his equipment.
I mean Leafs Nation has turned on him the way we did to Phil Kessel.
Phil Kessel was brought here to score goals...and he delivered. He did what he was paid to do. But it was never enough for some fans. Some Leaf fans never forgave Phil for costing us Tyler Seguin and Dougie and Hamilton (ouch, that trade still stings) but it was not Phil’s idea to come here and it certainly wasn’t his idea to give up the picks it cost to bring him here. Other Leaf fans never forgave him for being a soft, perimeter player, who scored goals with a great shot, but never by outworking his opponent in a battle. They wanted him to be the next Wendel Clark but the truth is he is the next Mike Gartner. That’s not a bad thing if you know what to do with him. Mike Gartner had a long, successful career, much more productive than Wendel because he never got injured because he kept his game to the outside….kinda like Kessel. When Kessel didn’t change his game to appease Leaf fans, they called him fat and lazy and demanded he be traded for a pack of hot dogs. News Flash Leaf fans, Phil Kessel won two Stanley Cups without changing his game.
Some Leaf fans never forgave the Leafs for drafting William Nylander 8th overall when a big Canadian kid named Nick Ritchie was still available. Other fans hated Willy for the sins of his father, Michael Nylander, who always put his pay cheque above any team he ever played for.
Just like Kessel, some Leaf fans hate Nylander for not playing like Wendel. They see a small European player with great hands and feet but he doesn’t hit or fight like Wendel or some of the other players from that 93 team we all loved so much. They fail to remember that the 93 Leafs wouldn’t have made it out of round one without Nikolai Borchevsky, a small European player with good hands who shied away from the physical part of the game.
If you don’t want to like Nylander, it is easy to find a reason not to, especially after he held out for a contract.
Those of you that have spent the last few years shitting on Willy for whatever reason you chose, you gotta ask yourself how you are going to feel if he scores an overtime goal in the playoffs this year. There were Leaf fans who complained about Borchevsky in 93 (hell, there were plenty of fans complaining about Wendel in 93, but that’s another issue) but they remember him as a hero today because he scored the goal that beat the Red Wings and got us into round two.
William Nylander could score the goal that wins the Leafs the cup and a percentage of our fan base will spend the summer complaining he did it on his backhand.
Willy might not be a Leaf long term like some of our other young assets but it is not because he doesn’t deserve to be, it is because his contract is so reasonable that he will bring in the best assets while also freeing up a decent chunk of cap space.