William Nylander is ready to put his disastrous 2018-19 season behind him.
"I'm looking forward to this season to dominate," the Leafs forward shared with NHL.com. "I very much believe in myself and I know what I'm capable of, so I'm not really worried about proving anything.
"This season I'm excited to show I'm a dominant player in the NHL. That's what I've worked towards every summer.”
Coming off of a season in which he posted just 27 points in 54 games, Nylander remains supremely confident in his ability on the ice. So much so that he used the word “dominate” at least five times during his 15 minutes with NHL.com.
His abundance of confidence also extends to the rest of the Maple Leafs, who have bowed out of the playoffs in the first round in each of the past three seasons.
"We're the only ones who can stop ourselves," Nylander said. "I feel like we as a team are ready to take a step in the next direction."
Nylander’s 2018-19 campaign, for all intents and purposes, was a disaster. He missed the first 28 games of the season as his camp attempted to negotiate a lucrative deal with Toronto. When he eventually agreed to a six-year extension with an AAV of $6.9M, Nylander returned to the Leafs to post the lowest point total of his career since the 13 he put up in his rookie campaign.
It took Nylander 12 games to score his first goal of the season in a 4-3 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 3. The struggle was real for the young Swede, but he doesn’t appear to be worried ahead of 2019-20.
"(The struggles) were a combination of everything," he said. "Maybe coming in late, my feel for goal scoring was just a little bit off. It's just how it works. There is nothing to blame it on. What happened, happened.
"I don't have any problems with what happened (in negotiations). Obviously both sides wanted it to be done earlier, that's one thing. But it went how it went. I guess Toronto's not upset about it and I'm not upset about it. I'm looking forward to this season to dominate."
Nylander spoke with coach Mike Babcock last week but said the subject of line combinations never came up. He hopes to be reunited with center Auston Matthews.
"Of course," he said. "We've had great chemistry in the past and we've been able to find each other out there. I feel I'm ready to have a huge step in my NHL career, so I think we'd do just fine together."
The Maple Leafs went 46-28-8 and finished third in the Atlantic Division but lost in seven games to the Boston Bruins for the second straight season, this time losing Games 6 and 7 after taking a 3-2 series lead.
Nylander said this season will be different.
"As a team, we're all very hungry," he said. "Like I said, we're all ready to take the next step."
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