One of these things is not like the other

Sunday Sports - - SIMMONS SAYS -

Over his past 50 games with the Maple Leafs, Mitch Marner has scored 18 goals, 48 as­sists for 66 points head­ing into Satur­day night’s game against Bos­ton. The third-year Leaf has been scor­ing at 108-point pace in that rather amaz­ing pe­riod.

Over his past 50 games, in­ter­rupted by in­jury, Aus­ton Matthews has scored 29 goals (47-goal pace) had 28 as­sists for 57 points. That’s a 93-point pace in his third NHL sea­son. And over his past 50 games, Wil­liam Ny­lan­der (pic­tured) has scored 12 goals and 18 as­sists for 30 points. That’s a 20-goal pace and a 49-point pace. As they used to say on Se­same Street, one of these things is not like the other. Ny­lan­der fought the great free-agent con­tract fight, miss­ing two months of the sea­son, and is now paid as if he is an NHL star. You could ar­gue he didn’t play like a star prior to his sign­ing — and hasn’t played like one since.

Marner has made a gi­ant jump from Year 2 to Year 3. In ways not com­pletely noted in his im­pres­sive scor­ing stats, Matthews has made a leap in his play in each of his first three sea­sons. Ny­lan­der is older than Matthews or Marner. Year 3 looks more like a lost sea­son, a re­gres­sion, than any­thing else to date. Maybe it’s the con­tract. Maybe it’s the time off. Maybe it’s the pres­sure.

Maybe it’s just a free-agent sign­ing gone wrong.

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