Nylander has 48 goals and 87 assists in 185 games for the Leafs, who drafted him eighth overall in 2014. "He's a big part of this team", Matthews said.
Before joining the Maple Leafs, Nylander played in 75 regular-season games with the AHL's Toronto Marlies and registered 77 points (32 goals, 45 assists). "Hopefully he gets us on a run here, gets in a couple practices".
The months-long stand-off between Nylander's camp and Maple Leafs management came to a dramatic conclusion, as TSN's Darren Dreger reported the signing at 4:57 p.m. EST - three minutes before the restricted free agent signing deadline.
With one talented forward now back in the fold, adding yet another high-end offensive piece has the Leafs excited for a few reasons.
"If he's here after December 1st, we will be very lucky, very happy and move on with him".
And what will Nylander add to an already-deep team that now has an improved shot at winning the Stanley Cup next June?
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"I've said it many times: I'm just hopeful Willie is going to be in our lineup starting whenever he gets over here and gets signed today and get it all worked out", Babcock said.
Kasperi Kapanen is on pace for 32 goals and 57 points, but the Maple Leafs winger isn't wondering what kind of pay day that could result in next summer.
"Kyle (Dubas) and (assistant GM Brandon Pridham) and the guys did a real good job in getting that done", Babcock said after a 5-3 win over the Wild. "We want him back and that's it". It's warranted, but keep in mind he won't surpass his career high 22 goals or 61 points, which he's reached in each of his last two seasons. Mitch Marner and Travis Dermott each added two assists.
The Maple Leafs have won four straight and are 11-3-0 in their past 14 games. They've had a great start to the season and I've learned a lot about the coaches and the players and their ability to (stay focused).
But Kasperi Kapanen, one of Nylander's good friends, occupied the right side on that unit for most of the early part of the schedule until Matthews suffered a left shoulder injury on October 27 that ruled him out of action for 14 games.