When it was revealed this past weekend that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was in New York City to personally watch the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames, it set off trade rumor alarms across the NHL. Fans and analysts immediately started to connect the dots between the three franchises, particularly the Leafs and Rangers, in an effort to figure out just what Dubas’ plan is exactly. Of course, as with everything in Leafs Land these days, the immediate reaction from fans and analysts was how this all relates back to unsigned restricted free agent William Nylander.
It’s true that Nylander’s agent, Lewis Gross, resides in New York City, so it’s possible that he and Dubas were meeting in order to bridge the financial gap between the two sides in contract negotiations.
It’s been 119 days since Nylander’s contract expired with the Leafs and neither side seems willing to budge an inch on the contentious and very public negotiations. This past weekend Sportsnet senior writer and NHL insider Chris Johnston reported that a long term deal, something that the two sides had always been working toward, was now off the table.
There is no long-term contract coming here. The Leafs can’t find an AAV that both fits in with their long-term cap projections and is large enough to entice Nylander to sign for six, seven or eight years at this time.
Johnston goes on to report that the prospect of having Nylander sit out the entire NHL season doesn’t seem likely either.
There is nothing to suggest he’s willing to stretch this past Dec. 1 — the deadline for when Nylander needs to sign a contract to be eligible to play in the NHL this season. It doesn’t make sense financially or philosophically to spend the year in Europe. Nylander could expect to earn roughly $40,000 (USD) gross per month if he played in Sweden, according to a prominent player agent in that country. But he’d have to commit to the entire season, with no out clauses permitted in SHL contracts.
Now, both Johnston and TSN’s Darren Dreger are reporting that Nylander has seemingly left the Austrian club team that he had been practicing with. Does this mean he’s on his way back to North America?
William Nylander did not return to practice with the @DECBulldogs in Austria this morning. He practised with them three times last week, and used their ice yesterday as well.
As discussed this morning on @FirstUp1050, William Nylander did not practice today with the Austrian team he has been skating with. He did skate yesterday.
Pierre LeBrun, also of TSN and The Athletic, weighed in on the latest in Nylander’s negotiations, as well:
Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and Lewis Gross, agent for William Nylander, spoke Sunday/Monday in NYC and my sense is that the dialogue remains open with more plans to talk at some point. Which beats the alternative of course. The pressure of a Dec. 1 deadline working on both sides.
While we may not have a deal to announce, it’s clear that there’s at least some activity between the two sides. Hopefully they can come to terms on a new contract in the next few days and we as hockey fans can put this whole drama behind us… at least until the Leafs open negotiations with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.