*Heavy French accent* “Hi Kyle, this is Marc from the Montreal Canadiens calling. We’re sorry to hear about your contract dispute with William Nylander. We heard you were taking calls on him? What would it take to get Bill… I mean Willy off your hands?”
Maple Leafs Should Trade William Nylander To The Montreal Canadiens
To the hockey community’s knowledge, a conversation like this has not taken place between the two general managers. In a way, it makes sense that it hasn’t. Montreal is looking to rebuild. Toronto is looking to add. Why would the Habs want Nylander and why would the Leafs want to trade him there?
I’ll say this: Wouldn’t he look great with Jesperi Kotkaniemi? Develop a left winger in the system and put him with the two, that line could be just as good as the Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak. It’s a wild thought, but it’s one worth exploring. The trade that I look to suggest could help both teams in their long and short-term futures.
As mentioned before, Montreal is tearing things down and entering a rebuild. Knowing Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin he’s probably still saying to himself that it’s a “retool”. Sticking to that theme, he probably believes his team might have a tinnie-weenie chance at making Lord Stanley’s playoffs. In that case, why not try to upgrade your roster a bit?
Now Bergevin is no idiot, although the hockey world likes to play him for a fool in a Shakespearean tragedy. He knows his roster isn’t amazing. The team’s long-term future is what matters most. Why not look to trade for a player you can build your team around?
For most teams, William Nylander would be one of, if not, the best player they would have on their roster. He can do many things for the team that goes beyond scoring goals and making his centremen look good. The numbers don’t lie unless you ask Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless.
Bergevin, at this point, really has nothing to lose. A lot of fans feel he’ll be the next one to leave Montreal. Why not try to make a splash? Leave your mark on the team and try to save your job in the process? Much like former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos tried to do when he traded for Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and David Price. Maybe not to that extent. Bergy can’t drain his farm system, but he can make an investment that can help out in the short term and the long term.
I can almost guarantee Kyle Dubas wants to keep Nylander. As Elliotte Friedman reported on “Saturday Headlines”, the Leafs want to sign Nylander but are looking into a trade because the talks of a contract extension have stalled.
Nylander and his representatives have their magic number and the Leafs have theirs. It appears to be that the two teams are far apart. With the December 1st, deadline quickly approaching, Toronto has most of the leverage in these negotiations. It would be silly for Nylander to miss a payday during one of his prime playing years. Toronto has offered him a fair amount but he’s trying for more. There’s nothing wrong with that. The only thing is Kyle Dubas cannot afford to give in to Nylander as a rookie general manager. It would set a bad precedent for future negotiations. In other words, Nylander is in the wrong place at the wrong time and for that, he has to endure a long contract dispute.
So let’s say Nylander and Toronto are still a ways away from a deal come next Monday, the next option is to trade Nylander. In a situation like this, the other trading partner holds a bit of leverage over Toronto. They have to hope they can get a deal with Nylander done before the deadline and that may, not will, lead to a lowball offer. Dubas and the brass will have to work out a deal that makes sense. He can’t afford to lose on this either.
Toronto needs help on the blueline. There’s no question about that. What they want is a right-handed defenseman that can play with Morgan Rielly. Let’s be real, they’re not getting that for cheap. Working out a deal for a Colton Parayko type would probably cost a little bit more than Nylander. Not to mention, it would be tough to make this trade work mid-season. Toronto doesn’t want to subtract, they want to add.
This is where Montreal comes in handy.
What Montreal can do for Toronto
Montreal doesn’t have a defenseman that jumps off the page to Toronto. Shea Weber might have been one that would have been discussed if he were healthy. The fact remains that he is not, and even if he was, his yearly salary cap hit would be way too much for Toronto. Other than that, there’s no one of interest for Toronto on the blue line.
What Montreal does have is a team that will most likely miss out on the playoffs and therein might have a top-15 to top-ten pick. There’s no guarantee that the Habs miss the playoffs, but if I were a betting man, I would not hesitate to throw some money on a Habs-less playoffs.
They also happen to have a good winger in Max Domi. A winger that some say may be overachieving at the moment. Why not try to leverage that in a deal? Domi is a great player. I wouldn’t say that he is a “star”. I would not project that either. He has a shot at being something special, but most likely he’ll be a solid top-six forward that can put the puck in the back of the net, contribute defensively and show shades of his father’s physical style of play.
Mind you, that would be a welcomed addition to Toronto’s lineup. Auston Matthews gets someone to play with. It may not be Nylander but at the same time, it’s not a bad downgrade. It would better than who he has been playing with this year. Kasperi Kapanen can move down to the third line and help Nazem Kadri out. Therefore, strengthening the Leafs’ overall lineup.
Toronto has a great group of scouts and a good scouting director. Why not give them something to work with? Montreal has three second-round draft picks in 2019. They can use two of them to trade up in the draft if they so please. Toronto could ask for the Habs’ first-round draft pick. With that draft pick, Toronto could select a defenseman. Develop him in year one and by year two, the Leafs could be in a position where they are serious contenders that are stacked offensively and solid on their blueline. Yes, it is a risk, but if done right, the risk is worth the reward. Yes, there will still be a cap problem. This method would prolong them. Therein making it easier to re-sign key players and add on smaller pieces in the short-term that can make a big difference come playoff time.
It is a lot to ask, but at the same time, if Montreal is not drafting first overall, would it hurt to trade away a first-round pick for a player who has proven he can put the puck in the net and get 60 points a season? If worst comes to worst, Montreal can trade Nylander down the line for a bigger return when the cap goes up and Nylander’s contract is viewed as a “value on the dollar” deal. Toronto is taking more of a risk in the proposed deal.
The proposed trade
- William Nylander
- Max Domi
- Montreal first round pick in 2019
The end game
There are reasons for both sides not to do the trade. Montreal is not in a mode to “add-on” and Toronto would have a hard time making a trade of this magnitude to a storied rival. Furthermore, maybe Nylander doesn’t want to go to Montreal? Maybe Montreal doesn’t like the figure of money that he wants? Those are all real things that can happen.
With everything being taken into accord, if you’re Montreal, you have to at least think about it. Same goes for Toronto. Both teams could go other ways or this could also be one of those situations where everything mends together and both teams can find a way to make things work.
Who’s to say that Toronto has to keep the pick? Maybe they can trade it away for their desired defenseman? Maybe Montreal can build on Nylander’s value and flip him for a hefty return? It’s all about asset evaluation. I don’t know what type of offers the Leafs are going to get on Nylander. There could be offers that blow this proposed trade out of the water, but then again, I doubt Toronto will have a massive amount of leverage. That hurts a lot.
This trade does have the potential to make both teams look good and maybe even save Bergevin’s job. So what’s there to really lose?
As Wayne from Letterkenny would say, “Figure it out.”