Toronto Maple Leafs: Bad Nylander Takes Driving Me Nuts

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 24: Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander (29) celebrates scoring a goal in the third period during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs won 4-3. (Photo by Nick Turchiaro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 24: Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander (29) celebrates scoring a goal in the third period during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs won 4-3. (Photo by Nick Turchiaro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to sign William Nylander.

No one is offer-sheeting him.  He isn’t getting traded.  The Leafs do need him, and Mitch Marner is not significantly better than he is.  The Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander will eventually settle on a deal, and hopefully we can forget about the horrible, horrible analysis we are seeing in regards to this mess.

First of all, there hasn’t been an offer sheet in the NHL since 2011 when the Flyers gave one to Shea Weber and Nashville matched.  Even if someone does offer-sheet Nylander, which they won’t, the Leafs will match.

Why? Because the compensation is terrible.  Four first round picks sounds nice and all, but the odds of actually securing an elite player are much, much, much less than one in four.  You have almost no chance of getting back a similar player, and even if you did, he wouldn’t be ready to help for years.   Not happening.

A Trade

A trade?  The trades I see floated about are just dumb.  No offense, but do people even think them through before saying them out loud?

Let’s take the most popular one: Nylander for Colton Parayko.  If they were the same age, I wouldn’t mind this because Parayko is a good player.  But he’s making $5.5 million for the next three years and then he’s a UFA at 28, meaning that, if he’s actually worth trading for Nylander, he’ll need to be re-signed as he enters his declining years for something in the $8 million neighborhood.

Since you can probably sign Nylander to a three-year bridge deal for $5.5, why would you do this?  Don’t forget that after Marner and Kapanen, the Leafs are just as weak (arguably weaker) on the wing than they are at defense where they’ve got Rielly, Gardiner and Dermott + Borgman, Sandin, Liljegren and Durzi.

Given the age and salaries of the players, Parayko for Nylander is a loser for the Leafs.  Like I said before, you only trade Nylander for a potentially elite defenseman of the same age, hopefully one on an ELC.

Rasmus Dahlin, Charlie MacAvoy, Zach Werenski, or Evan Bouchard….those are one for one trades I could get behind.  Anything else, forget it.

Nylander Is Way Better than Credited

Nylander scored 61 points last year.  But he’s more than “just” a 60 point winger.  Auston Matthews missed 25% of the season and Nylander was still just four points away from the top ten in 5v5 scoring for the entire league. He outscored Tavares, Malkin, Crosby and Tarasenko at 5v5.

If Nylander was on the top PP unit (as nearly all players at his level are) he would have been a top ten scorer in the over-all scoring race.  And you can’t credit Matthews with his success because he was without Matthews for a quarter of the season.

Therefore, Nylander is indisputably an elite player.  In the NHL can you name even one example of a team trading an elite 21 year old winger and getting back equal value?  I looked it up and Taylor Hall says hi.

Back to the defenseman proposals.  The idea is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are so good offensively that they need to convert Nylander into a defenseman. This is just wrong.

First of all, balance is overrated.

A Nylander-Kadri third line gives you a massive edge over virtually all of your competition.  If you add a top pairing defenseman, you don’t get that edge – he just goes against other top defenseman.  Adding wins to the lineup improves your team, it doesn’t really matter where you add them.  Balance is a fallacy.  (Plus people often seem to forget that the Leafs have the best left-side defense in the NHL).

Next. Leafs Top Ten Prospects. dark

To conclude, trading William Nylander, who is an elite player and one of the best players ever drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, would be stupid.

In the NHL, if there is one rule about roster construction it’s this: you don’t trade elite players.