Bob McKenzie says a late contract resolution doesn’t mean that William Nylander is getting traded, Mike Babcock is confident Nylander will be a Leaf long term, Zach Hyman discusses his line’s chemistry, and more in the links.
Maple Leafs Practice: Mike Babcock – November 29 (MapleLeafs.com)
Mike Babcock met with the media after practice on Thursday.
On Andreas Johnsson’s game turning the corner:
He’s got some speed back in his game. When he gets the puck, he wants to have the puck. He feels a little better about himself. The league is not easy. It’s hard on people. You win the championship the year before, you have a good summer and you enjoy it, and you come back and you find out everyone else has been working all [summer]. I don’t know exactly the reason, but obviously, he is going in the right direction. I thought that gave us a good line last night. I had Marleau on that line here today and him with Naz, but there will be opportunity either way.
On Sheldon Keefe setting the Marlies record for coaching wins:
The organization has really got to help you. Obviously, he’s a good coach and has done a real nice job. But the organization has got to commit to putting veterans in there, and that’s money because you can’t do it without those guys to help you. But he’s done a real nice job down there.
We’re committed here in Toronto to having a real good program in the minors. We think it’s absolutely important to develop these guys and get these guys to be ready when they arrive. To be able to do both is excellent. They’ve had a good team ever since I’ve been here. This is the toughest start they’ve had. They had injuries in net and stuff like that, but obviously, he does a good job and he should be proud. Any time you set any kind of record, you’ve done something well.
On the level of confidence that a deal will get done with Nylander:
This is my favourite question every day. I’ll tell you again and this is just what I think. Kyle and I talk about this every day, so I am up to date on what’s going on. There is lots of opinion out there. Let’s not confuse opinions and facts. We think Willy is going to be here. We think Willy is going to be here for a long time. We think he is going to be a career Leaf. That’s what we think. Now, that’s what we believe.
Bob McKenzie chats Nylander and Erik Karlsson on OverDrive (TSN1050)
McKenzie gives his thoughts as the William Nylander saga enters its final hours.
On whether the Kyle Turris and PK Subban situations are indicative as far as contract disputes that were resolved but still led to trades later:
The Turris thing was different. Turris, right from day one in the organization, had an uneasiness between him and the organization almost from the get-go. That was chronic, so when they finally got the deal done, it was kind of, “Great, we’ve got him on a deal. He’s marketable. Let’s move him.” The player was open to that and the team wanted to do it.
Nylander — there hasn’t been friction all the way along. He’s been a member in good standing with the club. He likes playing with Matthews and Matthews likes playing with him. Babcock loves him. You can see that every day of the week this week he’s been talking about how much he loves Willy and that he is going to be in the lineup and what have you.
You can’t rule it out, but if you’re the Leafs, I don’t think philosophically you say, “We are really unhappy with the way things happened here, so once we get him signed, we’ll move him at the deadline or we’ll move him at the draft.” They may have to move him at the draft, but that’s just hockey, though.
Nylander’s agent has been worried about that from the get-go. “Oh, we’re just going to sign, and get a club-friendly number, and then they’re going to move us.” Maybe they will. That’s the National Hockey League. You don’t get trade protection until you’re seven years in.
On Mike Babcock reiterating that he expects Nylander back all week in the media:
He’s sending messages to Willy. He’s sending messages to the agent. He’s sending messages to Kyle Dubas. On top of everything else, he is just saying, “I am a coach and I want the best possible team I can have.” The Leafs are a really good hockey team.
You can see Johnsson is starting to do now what I thought he was going to do at the beginning of the season. Now all of a sudden you’ve got the two guys labeled, “fourth liners,” at the beginning of the year and they were flanking Auston Matthews last night in Johnsson and Kapanen. These guys are good hockey players; really good. It doesn’t mean they don’t need Nylander and now we can trade Nylander. It means imagine how good they’re going to be if they get Nylander in the lineup and you move the pieces around? That’s a four-line deep team that can do some real damage.
On the idea out there that even if he signs, he’s traded at the draft:
What if he comes in and scores 30+ in the shortened season? What if he scores 14 goals in the playoffs and the Leafs got to the Conference Final and Nylander is a star? That’s where you make discretionary moves and say, “We could move Nylander or we could move these two guys and do this.” There is never any one path with the salary cap. There is a lot of different ways to find the money or not.
Hyman: We all hope Nylander will be back (TSN1050)
Zach Hyman joined Overdrive to discuss the team’s fantastic recent play, his line with Marner and Tavares, and the Nylander situation.
On whether he felt his pass went overlooked when Bobby Hastings got so much credit for having the stick ready for Marner on the goal last night:
Bobby goes under the radar but he’s the GOAT. He’s the man. He does everything the right way. I’ll let him have his little moment of fame because he does everything for us and he’s awesome. Good for Bobby.
On what it’s like playing with Marner and Tavares and how the line is gelling:
With those two, they’re always talking. We’re always talking about plays. Whenever Mitchy gets the puck, after the shift, he’ll come back to the bench and he’s always talking about what he’s seeing and where we were and how he can make a better pass. He’s assessing the play always no matter what, even if nothing was happening on the play. Mitchy is always talking. John does the same thing. They’re always kind of chatting to each other and I’m just sitting there listening. I chime in a little bit but I just try to go to the net for those two.
On whether there is discussion in the dressing room about the William Nylander situation as it comes down to the wire:
Everybody is aware of the deadline, obviously. You talk about it here and there. We hope he comes back. He is a great buddy of all of ours. He’s a great player. He brings a lot to our team, so to have him back would be amazing. We try not to get into it because, obviously, that’s a personal decision with him and the team. We’re just hoping it all works out so we can have him back.
On whether he gets any free products from Head & Shoulders as part of his Head Strong campaign:
I was talking to Freddy the Goat today and was telling him I was doing the Head and Shoulders shoot later today. He goes, “Do you have any product for me?” I said, “Yeah, buddy, just come over. I’ve got a boatload of products for you.” He said it in his deep French accent and I started dying laughing. Some Head & Shoulders will be going to Freddy the Goat today.
Timothy Liljegren: Evaluating his progress 18 months after his selection (MLHS)
As a right-shooting defenceman who moves well, he should have every opportunity to contribute at the NHL level. However, given the fact that he does not play a mature style, we will probably have to wait until he’s dominant at the AHL level before he gets a call-up. Patience will be required here, but he still looks like a player who deserved to be taken around the middle of the first round.
For Kapanen, Nylander’s return would be a dream come true (The Athletic)
“I used to hang out with the guy every day and my daily routine revolved around him and doing stuff together,” Kapanen said of Nylander. “And obviously sometimes I’ll have days where I’m not doing much and I’d love to hang out and just talk and have a buddy to be there for me.”
Leafs Notebook: Leafs excelling with the long change (MLHS)
The Leafs are tied with the Capitals for the most total goals for in the second period (the Caps have a game in hand on the Leafs). Last season, the Leafs were 14th in goals for in the second period.