At this point the best part of Nylander signing is that it will be the end of people writing about the Nylander contract, and/or Nylander trade scenarios. I can’t speak for everyone who has been writing on this topic, but I will be happy to move on from it, but at the same time, while this remains unresolved I will continue to have strong opinions on it. Also, since it’s a Leafs site it probably makes sense that we continue to cover every aspect of the biggest off ice story around the team at the moment.
So that brings us to Hockey Night in Canada’s Beyond the Headlines. The hip new take on Hotstove that is no way similar to TSN’s Insider Trading. Basically its the most organized form of speculation we can consume, and of course Nylander was covered. We’ll break down what was said piece by piece…
Rewind to the early days of William Nylander v. Toronto Maple Leafs and there were four potential outcomes on the table. You had:
A) Nylander signs a short-term contract with Toronto.
B) Nylander signs a long-term contract with Toronto.
C) Toronto trades Nylander.
D) Nylander sits out the entire NHL season.
I mean, yes. Those are certainly the four broadest, and most likely outcomes. If you lump in offer sheets to trades, and consider a one year deal a short term deal, this pretty much sums up the entire list. I’m not going to quote the entire section on Nylander, but I think it was important to have that piece despite stating the obvious since it’s the context for their speculation.
Option B isn’t in the cards. There is no long-term contract coming here. The Leafs can’t find an AAV that both fits in with their long-term cap projections and is large enough to entice Nylander to sign for six, seven or eight years at this time.
This is where I have a hard time believing things. Both the Leafs and Nylander have expressed the desire for a long term contract the entire time, I have a lot of doubt that its off the table, but instead think that both sides are now scrambling for interesting compromises. If Nylander is dug in on $8M/yr and the Leafs are stuck on $6M/yr, that’s a lot of ground to make up. Of course both of those numbers are unreasonable, but at the same time understandable.
The Leafs don’t want to go too far over what the Jets paid for Nik Ehlers, but that ignores that the Jets signed Ehlers early last season before it became clear that he could put up 60 points consistently. Nylander wants Leon Draisaitl money, but ignores the fact that Draisaitl was going to be moved to center, had higher point totals, and had the luxury of negotiating against Peter Chiarelli.
There is also the larger issue for both sides. Nylander doesn’t want to be paid out of line with what Mitch Marner will be making. And for those of you who want to debate Marner vs. Nylander, I assure it largely comes down to personal preference and they are much closer in talent than anyone is giving them credit for. Based on draft position I think a case can be made for paying Marner a little bit more.
As for the Leafs, paying Nylander more limits what they can do with Marner and Matthews, arguably their two more prized players. Frankly, I think they may be shooting themselves in the foot by not signing Nylander to what they can get him for long term now, and sorting out the rest later. A long term deal with Nylander provides them a few things, A) some leverage in the form of a comparable to Marner. B) A safety net in case Marner prices himself out of the Leafs. C) A more valuable trade chip if the Leafs can’t afford all three players. A signed Nylander will get a bigger return, especially if they front load the first year of the deal, and pay out salary as a bonus in the start of year two. D) And this is the ideal one, a really good forward that they will have for a long time.
Long story short, I don’t buy that option B ain’t happening.
I’m also inclined to strike Option D off the list. There is nothing to suggest he’s willing to stretch this past Dec. 1 — the deadline for when Nylander needs to sign a contract to be eligible to play in the NHL this season.
Well this makes good sense. He stands to make more money by taking an 11th hour deal on December 1st and angrily playing out the season with the Leafs so they can figure it out again next year. The upside is he’ll be able to do that with arbitration rights, the downside is that he’d be doing that with binding arbitration. That’s a topic for another day, but the main thing here is that Nylander isn’t playing in the NHL this year his value is only going to plummet. This situation benefits the Leafs a lot more than Nylander (in the long term), but really shoots the team in the foot when it’s becoming apparent they could really use another top flight forward at the moment.
With only Options A and C still in play, this would seem to hinge on Nylander’s desire to remain in Toronto. The Leafs believe the 22-year-old still wants to be part of the organization — a view unchanged after Wednesday’s face-to-face meeting in Switzerland — and they’ve so far resisted exploring the trade market in any meaningful way.
This is encouraging, at least the not exploring trades in a meaningful way part. The second that Nylander isn’t in the picture, you better believe that overpayment on Marner is a lot more likely. Nylander is an important comparable and insurance policy that the Leafs will definitely have one of the two wingers in their lineup next season.
As for the short term deal, I really don’t think this is a terrible idea. It has the potential to be a costly one down the road, and has the potential that the Leafs could ultimately lose Nylander as an unrestricted free agent for nothing sooner rather than later, but it may be a worthwhile gamble in order to keep the band together at least for a few more seasons.
Personally, I think we’ve all become a little too comfortable with long term deals, even when they are for star players, and having too many expensive long term commitments takes away a lot of flexibility teams need in order to continue to build competitive rosters and upgrade when needed. A short term deal also positions Nylander and the Leafs to regroup after a new Collective Agreement is in place, and who knows the realities of that world. For Nylander imagine the world of being able to negotiate a new deal when you teammates may have just seen their salaries rolled back (LOL, imagine the NHL trying that again, but still.) Or for the Leafs and Nylander imagine being able to negotiate a new deal in a softer cap world with a luxury tax system (this is pie in the sky, but dammit, I want this.) Giving up a little money now seems like something that Nylander could collect on later, especially since the cap has historically gone up (and up by a lot) and it gives the Leafs sometime to earmark some cap space for him.
He’s either going to sign a bridge deal in Toronto or be moved elsewhere. One or the other. That’s how this thing finally ends.
Now, we ask: How long will the Leafs wait before shifting their focus from Option A to Option C?
To summarize, hopefully they take Option C off the table completely. And by take it off the table completely, I mean until after Marner is signed. Option A seems pretty reasonable, but so does Option B. We can all agree that Option D benefits no one and it is unlikely to come to that, but Option C needs to be treated similarly. The idea of trading William Nylander is remarkably short sighted. Any trade that is being made isn’t being made from a position of strength, and the collection of middling prospects, plus a mid to late first round pick that the Leafs would get for Nylander is hardly worth it. So stop it.
What? TSN Is Weighing In Too?
While many are trying to connect the potential trade dots on TOR GM Kyle Dubas being at last night’s NYR-CGY game at MSG, which I suppose is possible, it’s worth noting two things: 1. William Nylander’s agent Lewis Gross lives in Manhattan. 2. Dubas likes to go to hockey games.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 22, 2018
More cloak and dagger work uncovers Dubas and Nylander’s agent, Lewis Gross were seen talking before the Flames/NYR game last night. Have to believe that is why Dubas was there. https://t.co/fV2KYP8gnn
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 22, 2018
So the instinct here is to wildly speculate, just like Darren Dreger is doing. It would be hard to imagine that Dubas and Gross wouldn’t at least briefly touch base if they are in the same building, and set up some time to chat again. There is also the fact that the Rangers recently scouted a Leafs game, and something could be in the works there. There is also the fact that the Leafs play the Flames next week and this was a chance to check out a live Flames game only an hour flight away from Toronto. Generally people don’t need an excuse to go to New York, it’s not like Dubas mysteriously popped up at a game in St. Louis. This is probably not worth the attention it has received.
As I mentioned way back at the beginning, we’ve spent a lot of time on this site discussing Nylander, and I thought it was finally time to dump all our recent takes in one place for quick reference.
Is Nylander Worth $8 Million (Thomas Williams)
Getting Nylander His $8 Million (kinda) (Jon Steitzer)
Why the Nylander Situation is Peter Chiarelli’s Fault (Jon Steitzer)
The Toronto Sports Network(s) Might Run Nylander Out of Town (Ryan Fancey)
Maybe It’s Dubas, Not Nylander That’s The Nightmare Negotiator (Ryan Fancey)
I think what we’ve landed on is that Nylander is a very good player and we want him back soon. Also, we hope that he won’t cost so much that we can’t have other good players too.