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William Nylander will not repeat as the driving force behind an international triumph for the Swedish international program again this spring, but he won’t wear the nation’s failures.
The ultra-talented, sometimes-maligned winger set a Tre Kroner record with his tournament-leading 18th point in Thursday’s 5-4 quarterfinal loss to Finland at the World Championships in Slovakia.
With five goals and the outright lead in tournament points, Nylander was well on his way to winning the competition’s highest individual honour for the second time in as many career appearances at the event after being named the MVP two years ago in Germany and France.
Supremely talented and mostly very effective at the NHL level when his seasons aren’t interrupted by contract stalemates, Nylander just seems to take his game to another level when representing his country internationally. There are several factors that have him scoring at truly historic per-game rates at the worlds, such as the space afforded to him and the lesser competition in a tournament stretched rather thin, but the offensive explosion has been a source of frustration for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs that watched him labour through an abbreviated and rather ineffectual fourth season in the NHL this past year.
His production at the international level shouldn’t, however, be viewed as anything but a positive. After such a miserable offensive season — which saw him limited to seven goals and 27 points in 54 games — Nylander needed something to build on this summer and ahead of the training camp that he will indeed be a participant for next season.
While the Leafs are banking on a return to form, if there’s ever another time that Nylander needs to reinforce his abilities in his own mind or for others, they know where to send him.
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