There was a major development in the saga that has been pressing the Toronto Maple Leafs and free agent forward William Nylander on Wednesday, when the Toronto Sun reported that general manager Kyle Dubas was in Switzerland yesterday for a meeting with Nylander and his representatives, with a Dec. 1 deadline looming to sign the restricted free agent.
It remains to be seen if both sides are finally meeting to put the player’s name on the dotted line so he can finally start off the 2018-19 season with the rest of his teammates.
The Maple Leafs are facing quite the financial puzzle as cap concerns remain an issue when we look at other free agents who needs to sign a contract extension in the coming summer. It does not seem like the 22-year-old is willing to accept a hometown discount, wanting to get what he deserves on the market.
However, The Athletic’s James Mirtle believes the solution is quite clear: the team insider reports sources saying the Nylander impasse appears headed for a bridge-deal solution. The two sides remain far apart on the dollars for a long-term deal, with the Nylander camp asking for something in the $8-million range while the Leafs prefer $6 million.
Once again, according to Mirtle, the sources believe it wouldn’t be a one-year contract, meaning it’ll likely be between two-to-four years. A perfect comparable for Nylander appears to be Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s three-year, $14.3-million deal ($4.76 million annual average value).
Many fans would agree that this could be the best plan for both parties at the moment. Mirtle believes it would be the best way to go for Nylander, providing him an opportunity to make much more down the road once he completes the bridge deal.
However, it could be a stretch for the Leafs… Dubas is probably looking to get the young forward under a reasonable long-term deal, but this might be the only way for the saga to come to an end.
The key date here is Dec. 1, which is the deadline for NHL teams to sign their restricted free agents. Anyone still unsigned by then is no longer eligible to play in the current season.