William Nylander’s story has been nothing short of inspirational.
After battling through the adversity that came with his long, arduous and very-public contract negotiation last season, he struggled upon returning midway through the 2018-19 campaign. In the 54 regular season games he played after inking his current six-year, $45-million contract, Nylander found the back of the net just seven times and only collected 27 points.
The 23-year-old learned and grew from that, though. Like a boxer picking himself up from the canvas after taking a heavy blow, Nylander has put together a sparkling start to the season, scoring 22 goals and 43 points by the time the 2020 all-star break rolled around.
His story should be seen as a guiding light in the darkness and if you haven’t picked up on the fact I was being sarcastic up until this point, you are probably writing an intelligent comment below or have already clicked away from this article.
Nylander was named the Comeback Player of the Year in the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s Midseason Awards on Thursday. And yes, I’m well aware that merely talking about midseason awards is a good indication of how slow things are in the hockey world right now.
Be that as it may, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas gave Nylander glowing reviews for his play this season and the way he responded to last year’s setback.
“We are very proud of William for being able to put last season in the rear-view mirror and use it to be able to properly motivate his off-season work and performance,” Dubas said via email, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
“William came into the season in excellent condition and determined to find his best on the ice. The way he prepared himself in the off-season has fuelled his performance in the first half of the season,” added Dubas.
Nylander will need to continue his strong play if Toronto hopes to make the playoffs, though. Despite the team’s 2014 first-round selection already matching his career-high in goals, the Maple Leafs currently sit four points out of a postseason berth with less than half of the regular season remaining.
And if Toronto is on the outside looking in after playing its 82nd game, Nylander’s midseason award would be a pretty brutal consolation.
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