What in the world is going with William Nylander? I have been putting this article off with the sense that once I begin writing it, he would sign a contract and this would be for nothing. Now that we are roughly four weeks into this NHL season, I figured it’s time to shed some light on what’s going on here.
To back track, William Nylander became a Restricted Free Agent following the end of the 2017-2018 season. Nylander finished last year with 20 goals and 61 points during the regular season. He is just one of the young stars in the Leafs lineup along with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. Nylander is the last of this group of RFA’s to be signed and is reportedly looking for a long term deal with a cap hit around $8 million.
The Leafs are very reluctant in the fact that they will have some big extensions to worry about as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will finish their entry level contracts at the conclusion of this season. With the big signing of John Tavares this offseason ($11 mill per year) and Patrick Marleau signed through the 19-20 season ($6.25 per year), the Leafs braintrust has a lot on their plates when it comes to the salary cap situation.
A new contract for Nylander seemed to be picking up some steam as Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas took a trip to Switzerland to have a one on one meeting with One Eyed Willie to discuss logistics. Dubas was also spotted speaking with Nylander’s agent in New York and Philadelphia. Since then, conversations have cooled and there seems to still be a pretty significant gap on term and length. Since these meetings a couple weeks ago, there has been no sign of the two sides finding a middle ground.
The Maple Leafs have started this season as one of the hottest teams in the league, 1st place in a tough Atlantic Division as well as being the highest scoring team in the league thus far. These stat lines have only been hurting Nylander as the team is showing they can produce without him in the lineup. That of course was until Auston Matthews suffered a shoulder injury this past weekend which will have him out for at least 4 weeks. This could give Nylander a little more leverage in contract talks going forward.
In my opinion, I do not understand what Nylander is doing. It seems he is holding out for a couple million dollars at this point. He has the chance to sign a contract and play on a team that will be a Stanley Cup contender for years to come. I’m not an NHLer and will never sniff that much money in my lifetime, but I like to think I would cut my losses to be a part of that team and play for the ultimate prize for years to come.
If Nylander does not sign a contract by December 1st, he will be ineligible to play in the NHL this season. The Leafs have a few more weeks to get things going with a new contract or at least think of trading away one of their best young stars.
We’ve seen how fast windows to win in this league can open and close in just a couple seasons. I can’t say I would let a chance of winning in a sick hockey city like Toronto pass me by.