For the majority of the month of November it genuinely seemed like there was very little hope that restricted free agent forward William Nylander would be returning to the team that drafted him, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Reports instead suggested that the Maple Leafs and general manager Kyle Dubas were beginning to seriously contemplate trade offers from organizations around the league after negotiations had seemingly failed to advance in any meaningful way, including after Dubas took a trip to Europe to personally meet with Nylander.
Now however, especially over the course of the last 48 hours, there has seemingly been a drastic change in tone from the National Hockey League insiders reporting on the ongoing negotiations. It appears that with less than a week to go before a final decision must be made, either Nylander signs, is traded, or sits out an entire NHL season, we have entered crunch time and both sides are really getting down to business as they hope to try and get this done before time runs out.
Sportsnet NHL insider Chris Johnston is now reporting that the two sides are "close" to coming to terms on a new deal for Nylander and, although it was previously reported that a long term deal was off the table, it sounds like we may be looking at a long term deal here on top of it.
“It’s interesting that a six-year deal, even at this late stage with next Saturday’s deadline looming, remains a term that is possible for this deal,” said Johnston as per Sportsnet. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a six-year deal, but that conversation is going.
“I believe that the Nylander side would accept something around $6.9 million — maybe a little bit above, a shave below seven. They have not yet got to that point but they are believed to be rather close.”
This would appear to line up with a report earlier this week from former NHL player Marc Savard who surprisingly revealed this week that $6.9 million would be enough to get Nylander signed as a Leaf for the long term. Savard is not known as an NHL insider but does have a sterling reputation around the league and claimed the information was from an insider source, something that appears to be supported by Johnston's latest comments. Savard also reported that there were still some things to negotiate in regards to the term of the deal so whether or not that is the case remains to be seen.
To be clear this is still not a done deal however, Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman believes that there is still some back and forth going on in terms of salary as well. The good news here is that it sounds like the gap has closed considerably from the initial demands that both sides have made with the Nylander camp coming way down from the $8 million they had reportedly initially asked for.
“I think they’re within about half-a-million dollars with each other and they both feel like they’ve come a long way,” he said.
It certainly sounds like the expectation is that Nylander will sign.