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7 players to consider if the Toronto Maple Leafs trade William Nylander

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
9 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have added some ‘snot’ to their game and general manager (GM) Brad Treliving can now turn his focus to other business which needs immediate attention. Two huge contract extensions hang over the team at the moment, and that doesn’t include restricted free agent Ilya Samsonov. Auston Matthews and William Nylander need new deals and frankly, Auston Matthews’ extension should be given priority over William Nylander’s.
Matthews appears to be willing to take less on his next contract, meanwhile early indications from Nylander camp are he isn’t. The Maple Leafs’ GM is in a tough spot and may have no choice but to pull off a summer blockbuster deal.
Considering the Maple Leafs’ window to win the Cup is wide open, moving Nylander means quality over quantity. No first-round picks, no prospects who aren’t NHL ready. It’s go time and if there’s this type of shake up in Toronto, Treliving needs to be precise. He can’t miss, it’s as simple as that.
Any Nylander trade is going to get a split decision from Leafs Nation as some love how he’s developed his game and delivered in some of the team’s biggest moments. Meanwhile the other half of Leafs Nation think about those shifts where you’re wondering if he’s half asleep and why he’s completely lost his man in his own zone. Nylander can be frustrating to watch, but he’s one of the most talented players in the NHL. Here’s some players to consider should the contract talks continue to go south and Treliving has no choice but to make a trade: (in no particular order):

Brock Boeser
2 yrs remaining, $6.65 million AAV

Boeser won’t be a popular target because he’s been inconsistent offensively but considering what he’s been through in Vancouver, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. There’s still untapped production in his game and in the right situation, playing for the right coach, Boeser could be a 70-point player with ease.
Treliving knows Boeser very well from the Pacific division so he could have some interest if he’s like what he’s seen to this point. The Canucks forward mentioned he’d prefer to stay in Vancouver, but if management receives word Nylander could be an option for them, things can change real fast.
There would be more coming to the Maple Leafs as Nylander holds higher value on the trade market. Imagine the Canucks eat a bunch of Tyler Myers’ salary and he’s a part of the deal. Treliving recently admitted he loves long and lanky defencemen. Regardless, needless to say a one-for-one swap of Boeser for Nylander is out of the question.
Vancouver likely makes Nylander’s approval list. They love their Swedes and have a track record that speaks for itself and the potential of playing with countrymen Elias Pettersson could spark his interest.
As for the Leafs, Boeser is a plug-and-play replacement who could hit 25-30 goals next season. The Canucks provide a couple of interesting trade candidates if a deal was to go down between these two clubs.

Noah Hanifin
1 yr remaining, $4.95 million AAV

It will take some convincing but if Hanifin is open to a move to Toronto, this could be a deal worth exploring. Treliving knows the Flames defenceman like the back of his hand and has traded and signed him in the past. There’s been some talks Hanifin prefers to play in the United States, so this deal obviously hinges on if he’s willing to sign a contract extension in Toronto.
There’s little doubt the Flames would have interest in Nylander, but again, if it’s not mutual it complicates things. Both of these players would need an extension once the trade went through and this trade may take a few weeks to finalize because of a hold up like such.
Hanifin would step in and give the Maple Leafs a top-four defenceman to build around. He’d be a great second pair option behind Morgan Reilly for the next seven-to-eight years. While the Leafs would have a giant hole at right wing, their defence would be set with Hanifin in the picture.
Treliving would also save $2 million with this transaction and could use the additional funds to add a right-winger for the top six. There’d likely be more to a Nylander/Hanifin deal, but as far as trade matches go, the Flames and Maple Leafs align nicely this summer.

Elias Lindholm
1 yr remaining, $4.85 million AAV

Very much the same boat as Hanifin as any trade for Lindholm would require a contract extension. There’s no chance Treliving moves Nylander and takes on a pending free agent in the process.
If Calgary can keep Nylander in the fold this deal has legs, but if neither player is comfortable sticking around long term with their new club, yes it’s dead in the water.
Lindholm would give the Maple Leafs some versatility to their top-six and provide another option for down the middle of the lineup. He’s played mostly centre but has experience on the wing as well. Last season the 28-year-old recorded 64 points in 80 games and has it in his game to reach 80 points. So far Calgary’s GM Craig Conroy is doing his best when it comes to players who want out. For now, they’ve decided to do whatever they can to sign Lindholm. If talks go south, these two teams could engage in some serious conversations.
Nylander playing with Nazem Kadri in Calgary would be quite the mind tease for Leafs Nation.

Brett Pesce
1 yr remaining, $4.02 million AAV

A popular choice of my colleagues here at The Leafs Nation, Pesce is someone the Carolina Hurricanes are trying to sign to a contract extension, but so far haven’t had any luck. He’d immediately solidify the Maple Leafs top pair on their blue line. Seeing a blockbuster trade between conference rivals is rare, but not impossible if the timing is right for both sides. This is the type of trade that drastically changes the landscape of the Leafs’ defence.
Pesce is one of the best in the business when it comes to complete games from the back end. Carolina is looking for more offence this summer and have already added Michael Bunting and Dmitry Orlov and are getting close to signing Vladimir Tarasenko.
The relationship between Nylander and ‘Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour would be fun to watch as sometimes the Leafs forward is known for taking a shift off and that doesn’t fly in Brind’Amour’s books.
Pesce finished last season with 30 points in 82 regular season games and added another six points in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He does it all, in all situations. Toronto would be lucky to lock up the 28-year-old long term.

Yanni Gourde
2 yrs remaining, $5.16 million AAV

The Seattle Kraken absolute love Gourde and rightfully so, but they lack a gamebreaker up front and Nylander’s game could be perfectly suited for the NHL’s newest franchise.
Gourde has a 22-team trade list, at this point it’s unknown if Toronto made the approval listing. The Kraken forward had a great season in 2022-23, putting up 48 points in 81 games and another 13 points in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He has a ton of postseason experience under his belt and a Stanley Cup win with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In his career, the 31-year-old has collected 42 points in 83 playoff games. Not bad for an going undrafted.
Gourde would be an intriguing fit for the Maple Leafs because of his ability to play all over the ice and in all situations. He’s a glue guy and one who chips in on offence. He’s played on either wing, he’s played down the middle and he’s played in some very big games.
Gourde is signed for two seasons so there’s a little bit of security for Treliving moving forward who wouldn’t have to worry about extension talks just yet. Nylander likely has the Kraken on his trade approval listing given they have burst onto the scene and all their players have nothing but amazing things to say about the organization and the facilities.
Nylander for just Gourde isn’t enough so there would likely be more to this trade, but the Kraken’s forward is someone who should be on Treliving’s radar should trade talks amplify. He’s versatile, cheaper, and a proven winner.

Jordan Kyrou
8 yrs remaining, $8.12 million AAV

If Treliving could get Nylander to agree to Kyrou’s contract, the Maple Leafs would be laughing all the way to the bank. So far, not a chance as the Maple Leafs forward has asked for north of $10 million per season. Enter the St Louis Blues.
A team in transition looking to make some moves. Ideally they deal a defenceman first to clear up their cap situation but it’s not always that easy.
Nylander put up 87 points to Kyrou’s 73 last season and the two don’t play any time on the penalty kill. Kyrou’s from Toronto and he doesn’t hold any trade protection.
He’s only two years older and St Louis would still be getting the best years of Nylander’s career over the span of his new contract. A bit of risk no doubt, but he’d be giving the Blues a more experienced forward who can elevate his game in the biggest moments. Nylander’s quietly put up an impressive 40 points in 50 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
For Toronto, Kyrou would immediately plug-and-play into the team’s top six, he’d give them another offensive weapon who is in the prime of his career and locked in long term to a contract that’s affordable moving forward. Now all Treliving needs to do is convince Blues GM Doug Armstrong to make the swap.

Adrian Kempe
3 yrs remaining, $5.5 million

When Matthew Tkachuk wanted out of Calgary, Treliving pulled off a huge deal and ended up getting back way more than anyone expected. If he was somehow able to land Kempe from the Kings, the very same reaction would be coming his way.
Kempe is a pure goal scorer who tucked 41 last season. He’s signed long term to a very team friendly number and he doesn’t hold any trade protection.
Kings’ GM Rob Blake showed recently he’s willing to shake things up and would likely push Toronto towards Viktor Arvidsson instead. But given Arvidsson is four years older than Kempe and only has one season left on his deal to go with declining production, the Maple Leafs would target the younger King instead.
Kempe would be an awesome fit for the Leafs as he plays in all situations, collected over 100 hits last season and would give the team a little bit more ‘snot’ like Treliving is looking for. There’s no doubt the fashion loving Nylander would approve the Kings as a trade destination. Now it’s just convincing the Kings GM his team is better off with Nylander in the mix. The two players are very similar when it comes to production, but offer very different styles of play. If the Kings and Leafs get linked to a deal, Treliving should be shooting for Kempe all day long.
To wrap this all up, Nylander’s camp and the Leafs GM are talking but to this point, the vibe is quite negative. Both sides are far apart when it comes to average annual value as Toronto would prefer to keep things in the 8’s, meanwhile Nylander’s agent has reportedly asked for something that starts with a 10.
If Treliving needs to pull the trigger on a deal sometime this summer, these seven players should be considered for his wish list. Personally, we’ve recently seen Nylander at his best and the team should do what they can to get him signed. If the Leafs decide to walk away, they should trade Nylander to the west coast so he doesn’t get a chance to seek revenge on the team for once again not paying up.

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