In 2014, William Nylander hit our T25 list at number four behind Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri.  In 2015, Nylander was second to Rielly, and then in 2016 and 2017, he was second to Auston Matthews. He’s second again this year, but he’s not there alone.

We have a tie because five our voters picked Nylander second and five picked Mitch Marner. The people who picked Nylander over Marner will tell you why they made that choice.

Fulemin: William Nylander’s powerplay production dropped off a cliff this year, which disguised the fact that he had a truly excellent year at even strength.  He was second only to Auston Matthews on the team in P/60 and P1/60 at 5v5, and it wasn’t especially close.  I still trust Willie’s skills in every facet of the game to prime him for a breakout this season (more than he already has) and, in a tight race with Mitch, that gave him the edge for me.

Katya: I have forsaken William Nylander this year, although I picked him as second last year. I’m still not sure the difference between Nylander and Marner is significant enough to bother measuring, but that’s what we’re here for.

Nylander has had a glorious career already and he’s still only 22! There’s more to come, but watch the highlights below for all of his past and recent accomplishments. For me, Nylander is first and foremost the snipe that you see in those goal videos, but his single most important attribute after that is his zone entry. A list of Leafs players who can successfully carry the puck in and then do something good with it begins with him.

Given his position on a line with Matthews, and with the pressure off on any needed adventures at C — for now — he can concentrate on all that he brings to the team both on that top line, and on the power play. It should be a testimony to the depth of his game that a year where his shooting percentage tanked below what we should ever expect to see again, he was still such a pivotal player.

If he’d had his struggles this past year in as convenient an order as Marner did, we’d likely have all struggled even more picking between them. But because Marner’s worst games were way back in the fall, and Nylander had his in the middle of the season, it’s hard to be objective. Marner won for me on age and creativity, but the difference between them is thinner than the hair ... I can’t make that joke, that would be mean. It’s thinner than Marner turned sideways? No, also mean. It’s thin, that’s all I’m saying. (And happy T25, everyone, you’ll never guess who is first tomorrow.)

Brigstew: Last year I had Nylander ranked at #2, and despite a lot of things going “wrong” for Nylander last year and a lot going “right” for Marner, I’m sticking to that choice. If I was allowed to I would rank both of them at 2.5, drop a shrug emoji, and call it a day. What I like about Nylander that gave him a slight edge over Marner when I had to make myself think of something is that I consider him to be a more complete player than Marner. He can score and pass, he can play center and wing, he can produce at even strength and on the powerplay. Marner I think is better at more specific things, but not as balanced. Or maybe I’m talking out of my ass and I just think that Willy is prettier. Who knows in this crazy world!

Omar: It rattled my brain trying to pick between who I would have at two, but I decided to give Marner the slight edge leaving Nylander at three. Willy Ny has had a decent resume since coming over to North America. He destroyed the Marlies (twice), was part of the wave of call-ups in the ‘Just Lose for Matthews’ saga putting up 13 points in 22 games at centre and has since been our top-line right-winger. Except for the moments when Mike Babcock chose to set an example and stick him on the fourth line because you know, development.

Nylander had some slow portions to the season as well and I think expectations may have worked against him. I’ve always thought that he has it in him to score 30 in this league and as long as his shot doesn’t lose any degree of speed or accuracy he should be able to do it. Performing more on the powerplay, as Fulemin pointed out, will do Nylander wonders there as he dropped from 9 goals and 17 assists in 16/17 to 5 goals and 7 assists.

I’m banking on Nylander proving that my decision was the wrong one, so it’ll be interesting to see what he and Matthews can do together. (P.S. Just sign already!)

Hardev: I still don’t believe that we have seen Nylnder’s peak yet. Like all players, he’s streaky, but those longish stretches of shakey play, mostly with Kadri and Leo Komarov but also with Auston and Zach, could definitely be improved. He can play centre, too, which is a big plus. However, if you haven’t heard, the Leafs got a certain Pyjama Boy to play centre for them, so there aren’t exactly any spots that Willie could fill at the moment. Regardless, having that kind of flexibility can only be a plus for a team. Should one of the big three pivots up the middle miss time on the ice, Nylander’s ability to shift to centre allows the Leafs to keep Patrick Marleau on his more comfortable wing, allows one of the Leafs’ many talented wingers (Josh Leivo, Carl Grundstrom, or Trevor Moore) to play, and keeps the Leafs from having to dig into their very shallow pool of centres (Frederik Gauthier, Josh Jooris, or Chris Mueller).

He creates plays like Shakespeare. His ability to protect the puck in tough areas has improved immensely year after year. He has the talent and tenacity to be a good player in his own end, but Mitch definitely has outshown Willy in this capacity. Sometimes that diligence that he has in the offensive zone isnt there in his own end , and I do believe Babcock is justified in throwing him on the fourth line once in a while. My hope and belief is that, with age, we see it lessen, and ultimately disappear.