We’re now just two weeks from the the NHL’s deadline for restricted free agents to sign for the 2018-19 season, meaning that time is running out for the Toronto Maple Leafs and unsigned forward William Nylander to come to terms. The 22 year old Nylander has been without a contract since his three year, entry level deal expired this past offseason and, despite some serious negotiations with Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, the two sides appear nowhere close to a deal.
Reports surfaced this past weekend that Dubas is indeed taking trade offers on Nylander, so you know that the Leafs’ rookie GM is eager to wrap things up one way or another. If Nylander can’t or won’t sign in Toronto, the speculation is that the Leafs will flip him to a team like the Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks or Philadelphia Flyers for some defensive help. The names Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brandon Montour, Travis Sanheim and Sam Morin have all been brought up when discussing Nylander, but NHL insider Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet dropped another possibility on today’s Hockey Central at Noon radio program. After losing unrestricted free agents James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov for nothing this past offseason, Kypreos doesn’t see the Leafs making the same mistake with pending unrestricted free agent Jake Gardiner. Is it possible that the Leafs package Gardiner up with Nylander to pull off a blockbuster trade? Or, do the Leafs ship them off in separate deals? It all depends entirely on the return.
Check out Kypreo’s take regarding a potential deal with the Ducks involving Nylander, Montour and forward Nick Ritchie:
“Montour, I think, leaves you in the big picture with upside offensively. And that gives you the flexibility to move Jake Gardiner out. If you get a guy like Montour in, then that could give you the flexibility to move Jake Gardiner at the trade deadline.”
Interesting theory. Again… it all depends on the return, though. Imagine what a package of Nylander and Gardiner could fetch from a team like the Hurricanes, Ducks or Flyers. At this point it's all hypothetical, but don't be surprised if a deal goes down sooner rather than later. The clock is ticking, Mr. Dubas.