NHL insider Elliotte Friedman recently met up with William Nylander in Sweden as part of the European NHL media tour, with Nylander reiterating throughout the interview that he’s not stressed about his lack of a long-term contract, with a desire to stay in Toronto.
During his end-of-season interview after the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Florida Panthers, Nylander was adamant that he wanted to stay in Toronto. He had just finished his best season with the club, scoring 40 goals and 87 points in 82 games. However, the Maple Leafs may attempt to trade him while they can as it seems that reaching an agreement on an extension with the Swedish forward is proving to be difficult. Reportedly, he wants a new deal that will pay him over $10 million per season. However, with the newly signed Auston Matthews extension paying him over $13 million per season, it’s obvious that the Maple Leafs can’t afford to sign another mega deal if they want to keep a roster past this season with the depth needed to be a Stanley Cup contender.
Nylander is coming to the end of a deal he signed after holding out when his entry-level contract ended until the literal last minute, when his game of chicken ended with Kyle Dubas caving in and giving in to the salary demands of his star winger. While that acrimonious negotiation may have colored Nylander’s perceptions, but that was under old management.
GM Brad Treliving can’t allow these negotiation to get as heated. But it doesn’t seem like its completely out of the realm of possibility for the dynamic winger to be shopped for the right return in-season, or at for Treliving to wait for the season to end and trade out his negotiating rights prior to July 1st when Nylander becomes an unrestricted free agent (UFA). When asked back in July where the Maple Leafs are at with the Nylander extension, David Pagnotta of the NHL Network said that things are not even close with Nylander
“I’ll tell you one thing, talking to a bunch of people around this situation, first of all, William Nylander is not close to an extension. He’s looking for upwards of $10 million a season on a full eight-year term and the Leafs are sitting around that $8.5 million mark. They’ve got some work to do to kind of bridge that gap. The other thing I can tell you, I would not be surprised, I would be surprised, excuse me, if Auston Matthews puts pen to paper before Nylander does, at least for the time being.”
– David Pagnotta
During an apperance on Sportsnet 650 NHL insider Elliotte Friedman suggested that Toronto has already considered a Nylander trade this summer, but the right offer never materialized.
“I think the Maple Leafs just decided [to keep him for this year]… I think they looked at trading him. I don’t think they liked what was out there, I mean, he did score 40 goals last year. He’s a really talented guy and in the playoffs, he was involved in a couple of their really successful moments against Tampa Bay. I think they know that and recognize that, they didn’t like what was out there [in the trade market].”
The Toronto Maple Leafs letting Nylander walk in free-agency for no return may seem like bad optics, but it is better than trading him in season from a roster that is trying to win more than one playoff series.