I feel bad for William Nylander... in a way. Perhaps the kid should lose the beard and get back to being the fast productive player he was before threatening and holding out until the Toronto Maple Leafs capitulated with a huge $45 million contract... In the 18 games since his return to action after the RFA deadline on Dec. 1st, Nylander has collected a goal and two assists.
Now, some wonder if another deadline is coming to haunt him: the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
The Maple Leafs and general manager Kyle Dubas are focused on the deadline and looking at significant pieces they could add to the roster in order to ensure a long and successful playoff run. The Maple Leafs' quest for a top-four defenseman to strengthen their chances of a playoff run is on and it is getting more and more serious. While it has been confirmed that the Leafs’ first-round pick this year is in play ahead of the trade deadline, TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie revealed on Wednesday that Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson could be moved in return for the right addition on the back end.
When it comes to Nylander, it seems almost impossible to see him traded, just a few months after the contract dispute was finally resolved. However, nothing is impossible and on Friday morning, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman was asked about Nylander's trade value and if his recent performances and lack of scoring have put a dent in it.
The Sportsnet insider had very good insight on the situation, and revealed when and why the Maple Leafs could choose to trade Nylander for the right return.
"I think there will be people out there that will say 'Ok, he didn't play until December, this season was always going to be a write off.' That's number one. I think there will be people who look at it like that. And number two, after his bonus is paid on July 1st, a huge chunk of his contract is already going to be paid by Toronto, so if they want to move him somewhere down the road, he's not going to be hard to move.
"I think his trade value will be fine. His numbers aren't good, but he's going to have the abilities and people will look at the skills and they'll say 'Look, last year, because of the contract dispute, it was just a wiped out year.'"
We will have to see how things turn out for Nylander. The Leafs need to focus on re-signing many free agents by July 1st, notably Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, a Nylander trade might not be a priority. However, if a rival team comes calling with a juicy offer, we might see him on the move this summer.