William Nylander has not produced at the level he and the Toronto Maple Leafs had been accustomed to since the forward returned to the lineup two weeks ago, and coach Mike Babcock is not surprised.
"You'd like it to go better for the guy than it has, but I didn't expect it to go any better," Babcock told TSN Radio 1050 on Friday. "I still think he's a couple of weeks away. We've talked quite a bit about that. There's no sense getting inside your own head, don't get frustrated. Just come to work, win your one-on-one battles, play as simple as you can, keep your shifts short and every day in practice work at it."
Nylander played his first game of the season Dec. 6 against the Detroit Red Wings. He had been away from the Maple Leafs as a restricted free agent until signing a six-year contract worth $6.9 million annually minutes before the Dec. 1 deadline to play in the NHL this season.
The 22-year-old has two assists, each on Dec. 11 against the Carolina Hurricanes, in seven games since returning to the lineup. On Thursday against the Florida Panthers, Nylander played a season-low 11:37 and missed a chance to score when he hit the side of the net with goalie Roberto Luongo out of position.