The clock is ticking on the Toronto Maple Leafs when it comes to their contract negotiations with young forward William Nylander and although this week produced some interesting developments things continue to look grim for both sides in these talks. Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas personally took a trip to Switzerland this week to have a face to face conversation with Nylander and, although this once again appeared to be an indication that Dubas would prefer to avoid a trade at all costs, all the talk coming out of that meeting suggests that no progress at all was made as a result of that meeting.
This has led to more and more speculation regarding Nylander's future with the Leafs and has drastically increased the likelihood of a trade being the eventual outcome in the minds of both fans and pundits alike. The problem for the Leafs of course is that they would be dealing from a position of weakness in this scenario, this in spite of the fact that they unquestionably have a highly valuable asset in the form of Nylander. Opposing teams would be well aware of the crunch on Kyle Dubas and they would almost certainly look to exploit the young Leafs' general manager should he be forced to seriously consider the possibility of dealing Nylander.
That being said though there are some realistic options out there for the Toronto Maple Leafs and today I would like to take a look at 3 distinct trade possibilities that I believe would actually make a lot of sense for Toronto. For the purpose of this list I will be loosely ranking these in order of the trades I find the least exciting to the most exciting.
#3 Anaheim Ducks.
It is no secret that the Anaheim Ducks' group of core forwards is on a rapid decline, due in large part to the aging process impacting players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. The injection of a talented and dynamic young forward could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Ducks and the fact that Nylander can, in theory at least, play both the wing and center positions at the National Hockey League level would provide the Ducks with a great deal of flexibility on offense.
On the flip side the Leafs could look to acquire a player like Brandon Montour in the deal as his age, current status in the NHL, as well as his current contract all make sense from the Leafs perspective. Montour is currently earning just under $3.5 million per season and that would do wonders for Toronto's cap situation, specifically as it pertains to the signing of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The problem of course is that Nylander, especially if he were to sign a long term contract extension, is much more valuable than Montour. The Ducks would need to find a way to sweeten the deal but these two organizations have made a lot of deals in recent history and there's little doubt that they could find a way to make it work.
#2 Carolina Hurricanes.
This is probably the name that comes up the most when it comes to the trade talk surrounding Nylander and for good reason. The Hurricanes could use a little offensive jolt after trading away some of their core forwards over the summer and their rather impressive depth on the blue line has left them in a position where they could easily shed a defenseman in order to improve their offense. The name that comes up most frequently is that of Justin Faulk and at 26 years old he could in fact prove to be a long term solution for the Maple Leafs. The problem with Faulk is that he is in the final two years of his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of his current contract, which could prove to be problematic for the Leafs in this potential transaction.
#1 Dallas Stars
The Stars are in need of some additional scoring depth on the wing and Nylander would be the kind of player that could play alongside someone like Tyler Seguin for many years to come. The Stars made it pretty clear that defenseman Miro Heiskanen was an untouchable player when they wouldn't even consider moving him for Erik Karlsson and therefore I doubt that he would be available to the Leafs in a Nylander deal. He would of course make an excellent addition, and likely an ideal one for Kyle Dubas and the Leafs, but soon to be restricted free agent Esa Lindell could be a player that the Stars would be willing to give up in a deal. At just 24 years old Lindell would fit right in with the Leafs young core and he has a high enough ceiling that he could be considered a legitimate option in a deal, although like Montour the Leafs would be likely to ask for more in a potential trade.
What do you think? Where would you want to see Nylander traded if it really came down to it? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.