For Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander, it’s been a long autumn. If the Maple Leafs weren’t winning despite not having one of their best forwards, it would have been a long couple months for the fans as well. Thankfully, this long, drawn-out saga will come to an end, one way or another, in the next couple of weeks.
Something’s Going To Happen For Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander
There are still many possible outcomes. And some are better than others.
The best case scenario is a long-term deal. It’s what everyone says they want. The dollar amounts flying through the ether range from $6 million to $8 million, roughly. Speculation is that the Maple Leafs want to sign Nylander for something close to what David Pastrnak is earning, $6.7 million. More speculation puts Nylander’s ask around $8 million per season.
If those numbers are correct. A seven-year deal worth $49 million sounds plausible. And as an added bonus, since Nylander is signing into the season, the cap hit will be less than $7 million after the first season. It will be higher this season, but the Maple Leafs have room to spare this season. They won’t have room next year with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner needing new contracts. The Maple Leafs will only save just under half a million a season, but every little bit counts.
Apparently, this quirk of the CBA is to discourage teams from signing players into the season to save cap space. In this case, the rule is backfiring on the NHL a bit since the Maple Leafs have lots of cap space this year, and not so much next year. James Mirtle explains it well in this article.
Decent Case (And Most Likely)
It’s harder to guess at what a bridge deal might look like for Nylander. It could be any length between one year and four. It’s almost assuredly not going to be a five-year deal, which wouldn’t really be a bridge deal anyway. Nylander will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of a five-year contract. The team will either want to negotiate the next contract while Nylander is a restricted free agent or sign him for seven or eight years.
If it’s a two-year deal. The dollar amount may come in around $4 or $5 million a year. That’s very affordable for the Maple Leafs. It may even allow them to re-sign Jake Gardiner next year. But the two sides will be back to the table quickly, and then what? Will there be another standoff? At least by then Matthews and Marner will be signed so the bigger picture will be much clearer.
Signing a three or four-year deal now has the same trouble as a seven or eight-year deal. It will be hard to agree on a dollar amount. The two-year deal is far more likely. It gives Nylander a chance to prove his worth, and he won’t have to wait too long to get back to the bargaining table. He’ll be more willing to take something closer to what the Maple Leafs want to pay on a shorter deal.
Another Decent Case (Depending On The Results)
The Maple Leafs could trade Nylander. As much as Kyle Dubas might hate to do that. Most of the trade chatter has been around a defenceman. Caroline Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce‘s name has been thrown around. The Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks both have a wealth of defencemen. But trading a star forward for a star defenceman is a dicy game. The Edmonton Oilers took a chance when they traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson and we all know how that turned out. But the Columbus Blue Jackets did okay when they sent Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones.
If the Maple Leafs can’t find a trade partner for a defenceman, they could consider moving Nylander for another forward. Someone who can play on the left side. The Maple Leafs already have Marner on the right side. Kasperi Kapanen is looking like he belongs in the NHL, and Connor Brown is starting to regain his rookie form. The Maple Leafs are pretty good on the right side. But they could use a little help on the left side. Zach Hyman has a place in the top six. But Toronto could use an upgrade on Patrick Marleau.
The Maple Leafs probably won’t get equal value back for Nylander whether they’re trading for a forward or a defenceman. They’re not exactly trading from a position of strength. But it may be better than the alternative if they can’t sign him.
It will be a disaster is Nylander misses the entire season. The Maple Leafs have until December 1st to sign him. After that, he can’t play in the NHL this year. Toronto believes they can win it all this year. Those chances lessen without Nylander or his trade return.
It’s not great for Nylander either. He won’t make nearly as much playing in Europe as he will in the NHL.
If he does sit out, what happens next year? Both sides will be all in at that point, which one is going to fold? They could be looking at another training camp without Nylander. Not only is this the worst case, but it’s the least likely. For it to make sense for either side, they would have to believe that by missing the season, they’ll get what they want. But the opposite may hold true. They’ll both just dig in a little bit more and wait for the other side to crack.
There’s a deadline for this waiting game. For months now fans have eagerly anticipated a signing or trade only to be disappointed each morning as they check their Twitter feeds. At least there is some solace in knowing that this saga will end on or before December 1st. One way or another.