While there was an expectation that the Toronto Maple Leafs would even get better once they signed William Nylander to a six-year, $45MM deal, the team hasn’t gotten the production out of their young star so far as many would have hoped. The 22-year-old sat out for the first 59 days of the season holding out, but has struggled so far since returning to the Toronto lineup.
So far the forward has just two assists in seven games and while he is undoubtedly still trying to shake off the rust after such a long layoff, The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn (subscription required) writes that Nylander has been the worst player on the ice for the Maple Leafs lately, pointing out his most recent performance against Florida was quite sub-par, including making several mistakes, including missing a wide-open shot from Connor Brown at one point, while never taking a single shot against the Panthers. While the scribe believes that Nylander will eventually turn it around, he believes that Nylander could continue his current trend for a bit more.
- Ty Anderson of 98.5 The Hub reports that defenseman Kevan Miller will not be cleared until Dec. 27 at the earliest. The blueliner has been out since Nov. 26 after suffering cartilage damage to his larynx. The 31-year-old has only appeared in 11 games this season, but have to hope that Miller will be back within a week. The team does hope that Jake Debrusk will play Sunday.
- The Detroit Red Wings played without Andreas Athanasiou Saturday and could be without him again on Sunday, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James. The 24-year old expected to play today, but was ruled out with an upper-body injury and he remains questionable for Sunday. Athanasiou is having a breakout year so far with 11 goals in just 32 games. His career-high is 18.
- When the Detroit Red Wings allowed Filip Zadina to join the Czech National Team for the World Junior Champsionships, the team was well aware that the move could backfire. The Athletic’s Katie Strang (subscription required) writes there is always concern with injury, diminished returns or the potential that Zadina could return to some of his junior league habits, but the team still felt that playing at the World Juniors could be a huge benefit for Zadina’s development to get him ready for the NHL game. “I think that he knows that he’s not quite ready,” Griffins coach Ben Simon said. “He’s close, but he has to work on other aspects of his game. When they call him up they don’t want him to come back here. Their whole plan — I can’t speak for them, but I don’t think they want to give him that thrill of getting called up and have that disappointment of getting sent down.”