2010-11: William Nylander returned to America from Sweden and played for the Chicago Mission U14 bantam team that reached the USA Hockey championship game. In 29 regular season games he scored 34 goals with 27 assists and had 8 penalty minutes. Nylander was the second-leading scorer for Chicago Mission at the Tier 1 National Championship behind Seamus Malone — scoring 5 goals with 4 assists in six games. Chicago Mission lost to Belle Tire of Detroit, 6-5, in the championship game.
2011-12: Nylander moved back to Sweden with his family after his father, Michael Nylander, a former Washington Capital, signed a contract to play in Switzerland. William Nylander played for the Sodertalje and SDE HF junior teams and skated for Stockholm 1 in the TV-Pucken national tournament for high school players. He appeared in 12 U20 games for Sodertalje (including four playoff games) and scored 1 goal with 8 assists; finishing -9 with 4 penalty minutes. In 26 U18 games split between SDE and Sodertalje he scored 19 goals with 19 assists and was +14 with 16 penalty minutes. In eight TV-Pucken games for bronze medal-winning Stockholm 1 he scored 7 goals with 10 assists and was +15 with 14 penalty minutes.
2012-13: Nylander made his pro hockey debut in Sweden as a 16-year-old — skating for Sodertalje in Sweden’s second league (Allsvenskan) — and was the leading scorer for the club’s U20 team. He represented Sweden in a pair of international tournaments – returning to North America to play in the 2013 U17 World Hockey Challenge and concluding the season playing in the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship. Nylander scored 4 goals with 2 assists and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes in eight Allsvenskan regular season games and had a chance to skate on a line with his father at times. Sodertalje finished second but failed to earn a spot in the SHL after finishing sixth in the Kval Series playoffs. Nylander scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was -4 with 4 penalty minutes in 10 Kval games. In 27 games with the Sodertalje U20 team he scored 15 goals with 28 assists and was +14 with 14 penalty minutes. He scored 2 goals with 8 assists in six games as Sweden captured the gold medal in the WHC. Sweden’s U18 team did not fare as well; finishing fifth in Sochi. Nylander scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes in five games at the U18 WJC.
2013-14: Nylander represented Sweden in the 2013 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August and finished the season with the U18 team at the World Juniors in Finland. Signed to an SHL contract by MODO, he was loaned to Rogle and began the season in AllSvenskan — splitting the season between both leagues. In 22 regular season SHL games for MODO he scored 1 goal with 6 assists and was -3 with 6 penalty minutes. Nylander played in two playoff games and was +1 with no points nor penalties. Nylander played in 35 AllSvenskan games between Rogle and Sodertalje. He scored 15 goals with 12 assists and was +2 with 16 penalty minutes. In four games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament he scored 4 goals with 2 assists and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes. Nylander was named the top forward at the World Juniors, leading the tournament in assists (10) and points (16) and finishing +8 in seven games. Sweden finished fourth, losing to Canada, 3-1 in the bronze medal game. Nylander was ranked second amongst international skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by Toronto in the first round (eighth overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
2014-15: Nylander impressed in Maple Leafs’ prospect camp and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Toronto in August 2014. Loaned to MODO in Sweden to start year, he skated in 21 SHL games before playing for Sweden in the 2015 World Juniors and then joining Toronto’s AHL affiliate following the tournament. In 37 games with the Marlies he scored 14 goals with 18 assists and was +8 with 4 penalty minutes. Toronto finished second in the North Division, falling to Grand Rapids in a first-round playoff series. Nylander had 3 assists and was +2 in five playoff games. He scored 8 goals with 12 assists and was +3 with 6 penalty minutes for MODO. Nylander led fourth-place Sweden with 3 goals and 7 assists and was -2 with no penalties in seven games at the WJC. Sweden lost to Slovakia, 4-2, in the bronze medal game.
2015-16: Nylander made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs in a February 29th game against Tampa Bay, skating in 22 games for the Leafs after beginning the year with the AHL’s Marlies and playing for Sweden at the 2016 World Juniors. He scored 6 goals with 7 assists and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, averaging 16:20 minutes of ice time with the Maple Leafs. Nylander scored 18 goals with 27 assists and was +7 with 10 penalty minutes in 38 AHL regular season games. The Marlies finished first in the North Division, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals against Hershey. Nylander scored seven goals in the playoffs, sharing the team lead with defenseman Connor Carrick and right wing Connor Brown. He ended the playoffs with 4 assists and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes in 14 games. Nylander received an upper-body injury in an 8-3 win over Switzerland in his only game at the 2016 WJC. Sweden finished fourth, falling 8-3 to the USA in the bronze medal game.
Nylander is a gifted forward. He is incredibly strong at pivoting with speed, both with and without the puck. He can turn on a dime, but tends to curl at full speed while making very fluid crossovers so as to generate speed through primarily the neutral zone. He is a strong puck handler who rarely loses the puck on his own accord and can dangle and deke out opponents with ease, using his body to protect the puck when opponents get physical. Nylander has a long reach despite relative lack of size. He makes accurate, sometimes dazzling passes and is very good at finding teammates and threading passes in tight areas. Scoring-wise, he has an excellent and accurate wrist shot, particularly from the point on the power play. He trusts and uses his shot with regularity, thus isn’t only a pass first player.
Nylander's overall hockey sense is special and he has a feeling and understanding for the game that few players enjoy. He can withstand physical pressure and is rarely separated from the puck or knocked around. He is very confident and can play a skill game. He is a go-to player and is very good at working give-and-go plays with teammates. As for weaknesses, Nylander's shots can be blocked at times and he is susceptible to opponent poke checks. He is relatively light though this doesn’t prevent him from being highly effective and dangerous. Nylander doesn’t always show vigor in back checking and his desire for puck possession can slow down other teammates.
Nylander made his NHL debut in February — finishing with 13 points in 21 games with the Maple Leafs in 2015-16. He was one of the top scorers for the AHL's Toronto Marlies as a 19-year-old as the club reached the Eastern Conference finals. Nylander is expected to make a strong push for a roster spot with Toronto in training camp and could be in the discussion for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. His combination of skill and offensive instincts project that he can be a consistent scorer. His small stature is a concern but his productivity is not.