Training camp is now mere days away, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have yet to come to terms on a new contract with pending RFA, William Nylander.
Are you worried? Well, you shouldn’t be.
Look at that face. Does that look like a person in serious danger of losing a young star to you? No one can say for sure, but I doubt it.
Despite what headlines from certain outlets claim to report, there’s no drama here, no cause for alarm. This outcome has been inevitable since the season ended back in April, remained inevitable throughout the entirety of the summer, and continues to maintain its inevitability now.
Nylander will get signed. It’s not, and has never been, a matter of “if”, but a matter of “when”.
That being said, this doesn’t mean the sides will adjourn right away.
Contract negotiation is a delicate process, dependent on a number of important factors which stand to influence the future interests of each party sitting at the table. There’s more to locking asset down long-term than just putting pen to paper, regardless of what NHL 18 tells you.
Professionally, Nylander sits in a phenomenal position, one he’d be unwise to compromise in.
In similar service time, that being roughly two full seasons, few players in the modern era NHL have managed to replicate the talented young Swede’s production level. Entering your third tour of duty at hockey’s highest level with a pair of 61-point campaigns to your name is special. It just doesn’t happen.
Having fellow superstars in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner around to steal the thunder dampens this somewhat, shielding fans from just how impressive Nylander’s tenure, up to this point, has truly been.
Make no mistake, the kid is good.
The comparables tell a similar story.
Dylan Larkin, a fellow 2014 draftee, inked himself a 5-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings a few weeks ago which stands to pay him an AAV of $6.1 million.
Judging strictly by face value, he’s an accurate benchmark.
The pair exhibit many of the same attributes, namely a shared 1996 birth certificate and first-round pedigree, while Larkin, in fact, tops Nylander in the “games played” column to the rough equivalent of a half season.
With 57 fewer games under his belt, Nylander’s 135 points in 185 games nevertheless sit 5 points back of Larkin’s 140 in 242 for his career, additionally besting him in the metrics of 5v5 CF/60, Corsi rel, and 5v5 FF%.
On a per game basis, Nylander widens the statistical gap even further, averaging more goals; 0.26 to Larkin’s 0.23, more assists; 0.47 to Larkin’s 0.35, and more points; 0.73 to Larkin’s 0.58, than his Atlantic Division counterpart.
If we’re talking contracts, Larkin is Nylander’s floor, with David Pastrnak as the logical ceiling.
Similar to the case with Larkin, the snipers share a draft year and selection-based pedigree, going far enough to where they even exhibit similar on-ice playing styles as well. And yet, it’s Pastrnak who’s outscored Nylander to this point in their careers, both in the context of collective totals; 203 points to Nylander’s 135, and per-game rate; 0.80 to Nylander’s 0.73.
The two aren’t far apart – Nylander actually averages slightly more assists per contest – but Pastrnak is nonetheless listed as the more established contributor of the two, and has the numbers to back it up.
Naturally, the latter’s cap hit can be expected to sit North of what the former’s turns out to be. Not to mention, news of Pastrnak agreeing to a 6-year deal with a $6.666 million AAV just 12 months ago should come as a relief to all the capologists out there.
It was only after Bruins camp had begun before both sides chose to relent in their standoff. Pastrnak skipped the entirety of the first day. It shouldn’t ignite panic if/when Nylander follows suit.
There are further wrinkles to account for anyway.
Pastrnak signed his deal in 2017 under a salary cap set at $75 million. That’s no longer the case, as the cap proceeded to rise during the summer to its current figure of $79.5 million, a modest yet notable increase of 1.06%.
Factoring this into the numbers at hand, Pastrnak’s $6,666,000 AAV in the prior cap climate would be worth $7,066,665 today.
With that figure representing the ceiling, Nylander’s eventual number should mathematically fall into the approximate range of $6.3 to $6.8 million, similar to the cap hits of Aleksander Barkov ($6.431 million), Mark Scheifle ($6.676 million), and, Filip Forsberg ($6.54 million) when adjusted for inflation.
The former two being centres aside, would you consider Nylander to be better than any of those names? Maybe, but not definitively, either.
With all the facts accounted for, allow me to spoil how this story will end, barring any unprecedented developments.
- Nylander will end up signing since both he and Kyle Dubas have publicly stated their desire to agree on a long-term deal.
- He’ll likely miss a portion of camp in the process, something which shouldn’t be seen as too out of the ordinary considering Pastrnak did the exact same thing a year ago, not to mention the countless others before him.
- When the two sides eventually come to terms, the annual dollar amount will land somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6.5 million.
If I’m wrong, you’ll have free reign to eviscerate me to your heart’s content. But until then, don’t waste your time worrying about William Nylander. He’s going to be fine.
Thanks for reading!
Stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com