It’s been 119 days since William Nylander’s contract expired with the Toronto Maple 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.
That leaves Nylander with the option of either signing a short term “bridge deal” with the Leafs or having his rights traded to another NHL team. At this point it still seems likely that Nylander will re-up with the Leafs, but with each passing day and with the Dec 1st deadline for signing restricted free agents looming, the prospect of a trade grows larger and larger.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was recently spotted scouting a New York Rangers game, while Rangers scouts were spotted in Toronto taking in a Leafs game, leading many to speculate that a deal could be brewing between the two Original Six franchises. Whether or not that’s true and whether or not Nylander’s involved in any hypothetical deal is anyone’s guess… but the fact that we’ve reach this level only proves how big of a distraction Nylander’s contract stalemate has become. What’s best for everyone is to sign a two or three year deal in the neighbourhood of $5 million to $6 million annually so that Nylander can get back on the ice and the Leafs management group can turn their focus to extensions for Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.