As the rumours become louder, the dialogue between the Leafs and the Nylander camp continue to be kept secret. The latest speculation regarding Nylander came from the HNIC segment “Headlines”. Here is the quote from Elliotte Fridman.
“When the time does come, if the time does come that Toronto decides they are going to deal (Nylander), Carolina has made it very clear that they are all in,” said Friedman.”
Why the Hurricanes?
In theory, the Hurricanes seem like the perfect trade partner for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have a number of right-defensemen who could entice GM Kyle Dubas. In particular, Brett Pesce has been thrown around as a potential candidate to be included in a trade between the two teams. The 24-year-old Pesce is on a good contract and has strong underlying defensive numbers, two things that the Leafs are in dire need of. With Hamilton, Faulk, and Fleury also on the right side, it seems like it would be worth it for the Hurricanes to part ways with Pesce.
Pesce is a big defenseman, who moves well laterally and can make a strong first pass. He’s also got a huge shot from the point.
This deal also makes a lot of sense when you look at the Hurricanes’ needs. The Canes currently rank 1st in expected goals-for but 16th in goals scored at even strength. Corsi-lina has been dominating their opponents yet only have a 6-6-2 record to show for it. Acquiring a player of Nylander’s caliber would certainly drive their shooting percentage up.
— manny (@manny_hockey) October 31, 2018
Scouts need to turn off their “Find My Friends”
These Nylander-to-Carolina rumours have been further fueled by the presence of Hurricanes scouts at Leafs games. Elliott Freidman went on “Tim And Sid” on Thursday to talk about why the appearance of Hurricanes scouts at Leafs games is not just an ordinary occurrence.
“We have a full (NHL) schedule tonight. For three guys to be at one game, that is different. That’s an eyebrow raiser… And the one thing that makes me more curious about it is that the guy they are supposedly scouting… Sources tell me he’s (Nylander) not in the lineup tonight. So what are they looking at?……….. Unless they have something going with Dallas, it leads me to believe there’s the possibility that if Carolina is the trade partner somewhere down the road, that Carolina is thinking about something else or they are thinking about something else entirely away from the obvious…”
Pretty much if a deal does happen, it could involve a number of players. This doesn’t come to a surprise though, as a one-for-one deal involving Nylander doesn’t seem feasible.
The possibility of Nylander sitting out for the season has also started to surface. One way this could happen is if Nylander spends the year playing in Europe. This is an interesting option for him. One would hope that it’s not in his best interest to miss a year with the Leafs but the Nylander camp could use this as a way of getting the money they want.
This particular season is important as many of the Leafs’ key players are still on friendly contracts such as Jake Gardiner, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and more. It would be a huge loss if the Leafs were unable to sign Nylander this season and as a result, lower their chances of competing for a cup this year. This is something the Nylander camp could take advantage of.
I'm surprised we haven't hear more about Nylander actively looking at KHL teams for the season. That would be their only other real play to make beyond sitting out. Making it seem like they are getting their ducks in a row to miss the year.
— Totally Offside (@Totally_Offside) October 30, 2018
So now what?
The Nylander contract battle has turned out to be a lot worse than many people, including me, ever expected. As we get closer to the December 1st deadline, the rumours and number of scouts at Leafs games will surely increase. We can only sit back and hope that hockey’s version of reality TV ends soon, and that it ends with William Nylander signing long-term with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Willy if you are reading this, we miss you and we want you to come home.