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Monday, November 23, 2015

AHL's best player has no business in NHL

Leafs prospect William Nylander is dominating the AHL despite being young enough to pass for a high school senior.

There are compelling reasons to call him up to the NHL.

  • The Leafs are bad and have scored the 6th fewest goals in the league.
  • Nylander leads the AHL in scoring with 23 points in 17 games.
  • It's his No. 1 goal and he doesn't seem to have trouble with goals.



But calling up Nylander isn't best for the Leafs long-term.

Why?

If Nylander stays in the AHL all season his entry-level contract won't kick in until next year. That's important because the Leafs are going nowhere this year, even with Nylander. Calling him up essentially wastes one of the three years Nylander is guaranteed to have a cheap contract.

If the Leafs dream of snatching one of this summer's premier free agents it's going to cost them big. At least $12 million a year for Steven Stamkos big. Nylander knocking on Brendan Shanahan's door for a new contract one year earlier doesn't make filling out the rest of the roster easy.

Future stock photo of Steven Stamkos hitting free agency.

Nylander also takes a roster spot from a veteran. Not that the Leafs need to respect the vets, but one of the major priorities this season was to get decent production out of the cheap off-seasons signings and spin those vets into picks at the deadline. Those vets need big minutes, especially on the power play, to get enough points to look attractive to other teams.

But even if the Leafs deal off veterans at the deadline and have a roster spot for Nylander in March he should still finish the year with the Marlies. This is his first full professional season as a centre and although he can clearly handle the duties offensively, it's worth giving him more time to master his defensive responsibilities

The Leafs have rushed prospects to the NHL with disastrous results for years. Nylander may be different, but he should wait until next year to prove it.

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