January 20, 2014
TORONTO– When prospect William Nylander makes his Marlies debut on Friday it’ll be on the wing and not at centre.
When Nylander, who plays both positions, first joined the Marlies it was unclear where he would be placed into the lineup, but coach Gord Dineen confirmed on Tuesday that he’ll start his career in Toronto playing left-wing.
“That’s where we foresee him in the short term,” said Dineen.
“I think with the dynamic of our team right now there is more need on the wing, specifically left side.”
The 18-year-old Swede practised Tuesday on Toronto’s top line alongside centre Greg McKegg and winger Spencer Abbott.
A hole opened up on the left side Tuesday with the Leafs summoning Josh Leivo while a spot down the middle was taken when the big club sent down Sam Carrick.
Dineen did not mention if that exact transaction influenced the decision, but the eighth overall pick from 2014 will still be developed for both positions.
“I told him be prepared to go back to centre,” said Dineen “It’s a nice problem to have to be able to adjust him.”
When asked his preference, Nylander gave a simple response.
“Whatever the coach needs me to play I’ll play.”
Nylander, who is rooming with fellow Swede and former Modo teammate Viktor Loov, was on the ice 30 minutes before practice working on stick handling and his right-handed shot.
Then Dineen ran the team through a 90-minute practice with a flood in the middle. It was Nylander’s first real opportunity to skate hard with the team after Monday’s practice, his first skate with the team, consisted only of a player-run scrimmage.
“I want to get going right away,” said Nylander.
Nylander’s first game is Friday in Hamilton against the Bulldogs. The Marlies return home Saturday to host the same club in the back end of a home-and-home.
The five-foot-11 174 pound forward also participated in power-play drills and will most likely play minutes with the man advantage.