Kyper and Bourne: William Nylander could sign an extension by the all-star break

Photo credit:Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
6 months ago
by Alex Hobson and Jon Steitzer
Things got a little too quiet in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rumour circle over the Christmas break. If you were listening to Kyper and Bourne on the Fan590 earlier today, you probably got your fix already. 
For those who didn’t catch it, both Nick Kypreos and Justin Bourne dropped a bit of a bomb regarding the ongoing contract negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and star forward William Nylander. Both reported hearing that the two sides were inching closer to an agreement, with Kypreos speculating that the number could land just north of $11 million. 
Nylander, 27, is in the middle of a career season after healthily trending upwards for the past couple of years. He has 17 goals and 48 points in 34 games on the year so far, good for fifth in league scoring, and he’s fresh off of his first 40-goal season and first point-per-game season alike, with 87 points in 80 games last season.
It seems like only August (it was August) that the word on the street was that William Nylander at $10M AAV was ridiculous and far too much for him. And if Nylander was asking for that the Leafs should walk. Now here we are in January and $11.25M AAV seems like a pill most Leafs fans would happily swallow. The catch might be with the term on the deal and 8 years is a long time and a lot can happen.
One of the things that could happen over 8 years is that the NHL continues to see its salary cap continue to shoot up and as a result a 36 year old Willy Nylander at a $11.25M cap hit might not be as daunting as it looks today. There is also the small matter of the new NHL CBA that will be coming up in a few years and with that a changing landscape of player contracts too. There is also the importance of having Nylander in place as leverage/security in the Marner contract negotiations that has appeal and all of this points to not worry about eight years. You can also point to his father’s long playing career and hope that Willy mirrors the success of Michael.
Still, eight years at $11M+ comes with a lot of performance and health variables over that time not to mention it is difficult to predict the competitiveness of the Maple Leafs over the next decade.
The one thing that remains true is that the best time to sign William Nylander was last summer, the next best time is right now. The Leafs (not to mention the league) have few players that can control puck possession as well as Nylander and Toronto can’t afford to let that go.

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