Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and representatives for William Nylander are still trying to come to an agreement as we are five weeks away from the Dec. 1 deadline to sign the restricted free agent. Trade chatter started going off this past weekend when Dubas was spotted at both New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers home games, getting closer to New Jersey-based agent Lewis Gross, who is handling the talks with Nylander’s father, Michael.
The two men met on Monday after taking a couple of days to think over what took place during the meeting that took place in Switzerland last week. Both sides remain apart of the numbers on a long-term deal, as Nylander is believed to be seeking around $8 million per season versus just more than $6 million offered by the Leafs. Many believe a compromise would be a bridge deal in the $4 million-to-$5 million range that both sides had initially rejected. The Maple Leafs might be looking at a short-term deal in the two to four years, with Nylander looking for six to eight years.
While a trade has been a potential outcome for the Leafs for weeks now, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun was asked on Tuesday morning what impact the potential of an offer sheet for the restricted free agent would have on the situation.
Offer sheets have been extremely rare in the NHL largely due to the fact that they come with a ton of consequences for the general manager that chooses to use them against a rival team. There has long been a sense that other general managers would refuse to work with another general manager who made use of an offer sheet as a way to avoid their use altogether, but this may be the perfect opportunity.
However, LeBrun felt the need to discuss what took place back in 2012 when Nashville Predators GM David Poile used it with his captain Shea Weber, and how it put an end to their relationship.
“I will tell you right now, I don’t believe the relationship between Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators and David Poile was ever the same after his offer sheet with the Flyers, explained LeBrun during a Halford & Brough segment on Vancouver’s TSN 1040.
“I mean, as popular a player he was as a captain of that team - and certainly to his last remaining day as a Predator he was very popular with his teammates - but I mean to your point, the relationship between management and the player, I think that took a hit.”
The offer sheet, which was tendered in July of 2012 by a Flyers team that had been trying to acquire Weber by trade and then was signed by Weber himself, was for 14 years and $110 million.
“I will never be able to get David Poile to admit this because I just think he never would,” continued LeBrun. “But I believe the day that the Predators matched that offer sheet - grudgingly because at the end of the day they still felt their better chance to win a championship was with a Shea Weber in his prime - but I think the day they matched that offer sheet from the Flyers, which was incredibly front-loaded, as you just outlined, I think that day David Poile knew he would trade Shea Weber at one point. I really do. I just think that he probably just felt that it would have to be a few years later, and on his own terms.”
One team that is uniquely positioned to make the move are the suddenly successful Colorado Avalanche, not only because they have the cap space but because they also have the picks to make this deal a reality. Nylander is reportedly looking for a deal that will pay him an average annual value of $8 million per season and that type of contract offer would cost the team making the offer sheet two first round picks, a second round pick, and a third round pick. The Avalanche are in the unique position of currently holding the Ottawa Senator’s first round pick in 2019 following the trade of forward Matt Duchene, which means they could give up their own pick this year while still retaining a first rounder in the 2019 NHL draft.
Additionally, Cap Friendly reveals that the Avalanche currently have nearly $14 million in available cap space so fitting a deal of that size under the cap would be a non issue for the organization.
The Avalanche may avoid the move due to the stigma it would put on them and Dubas might want to be careful on the impact it will have on his relationship with Nylander.
"The No. 1 issue with the offer sheet, if a team matches it, is they kind of look at you in a different way after that. I think there’s no question.”