The long-awaited debut of William Nylander will come to an end against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night. After months of speculation and back-and-forth between Nylander and the Maple Leafs’ camp, a deal was struck at the last minute to keep him in Toronto. They are going to run into issues trying to keep this core together when Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are in negotiations, but as it stands now, the Maple Leafs are stacked and the return of Nylander makes them even deeper.
In other words, they could be going all-in on this season with maybe the best team they’ll have together as a group. Nylander has appeared to be staying in shape and taking care of himself during his extended offseason, so there might be some rust, but don’t expect him to take long to get a feel for things again.
Even with a banged up Matthews at times this season, the Leafs haven’t missed a beat. Depth isn’t an issue for them. There will be some causalities and guys who will have to take a lesser role, though. Notably, Kasperi Kapanen who provided some tremendous lift for the Maple Leafs in the absence of Nylander.
Kapanen won’t be invisible now, but his role will be diminishing, albeit provide the Leafs with superb depth. I’ve mentioned depth a couple of times already about the Maple Leafs. This is something that the Red Wings lack and it’s going to keep them from advancing very far this season. Dylan Larkin, Gustav Nyquist, and Andreas Athanasiou are all talented options for the Wings up front, but things kind of thin out deeper on the roster. Tyler Bertuzzi is a fine young player too, but he is out tonight due to a suspension. Head below for our free Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs pick.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick
The Red Wings took the Lightning to the edge of a loss on Tuesday, but the Lightning ultimately escaped with 2 points in a shootout. The offence looked great without Bertuzzi in the lineup. However, there is a caveat with that game. Tampa was starting a goaltender who has spent his entire near decade career in the minors. The Red Wings got to take advantage of a guy who was only in net because of circumstance.
And they did just that, with 5 goals in a 6-5 loss. They won’t have the advantage of getting a rookie netminder in net tonight. Instead the Wings will have to deal with Frederik Andersen, who has been playing well for the Leafs with a 2.32 GAA and 0.931 save percentage. The defensive worries in Toronto have been calmed with the play of Andersen in net.
Overall, the defence hasn’t been as bad as advertised before the season started either. They’re 5th in the NHL with 2.61 goals allowed per game. In the NHL today that isn’t bad. There’s been an increase in scoring and the Leafs have been hanging in there. At home it’s been better, with only 2.21 goals allowed per game. Conversely, the Wings have allowed 3.5 goals per game on the road.
Coupled with their top-flight offence, Toronto aren’t a team to joke around about any longer. They are 2nd with 3.64 goals per game, tied with the Avalanche and trailing the Lightning in that department. Toronto have notched 3.9 goals per game in their last ten games, including 4.8 per game during their latest five-game winning streak. The return of Nylander will only serve to improve that even more. If you want to take the moneyline, look at parlaying with something else. It’s far too pricey to play straight up. I will take a look at the puckline on the Maple Leafs here to make it more affordable.