Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving is in deep negotiations with star forward William Nylander regarding an extension to Nylander’s expiring contract.
Rumours suggest that Nylander’s camp has asked for a deal in the area of $10M per year, while the Toronto Maple Leafs have countered with an offer of approximately $8M.
You may recall that negotiations for Nylander’s current contract were so contentious that Nylander sat out the first two months of the 2018-2019 season before agreeing to a contract averaging just under $7M per season.
But is $10M an unreasonable amount for a player in Nylander’s situation?
Scrolling through the list of the league’s biggest earners on capfriendly.com, there are currently 15 players with average annual salaries (AAV) of $10M or more. A further 22 players are earning $9M or more. Note that these are all contracts that were signed prior to this year. Also note that salaries go up every year.
Toronto Maple Leafs Forward William Nylander is Worth the Money
Nylander is entering his prime years (he’s 27) and is coming off a career year in goals (40) assists (47) and point (47). He doesn’t get injured, is well liked by his teammates, and has been the Toronto Maple Leafs’ most consistent playoff performer over the last several years.
It’s sometimes difficult to compare salary numbers with other players, as there are always good contracts and bad contracts out there. However, Nylander’s 2022-2023 stats look good side by side against players such as Jonathan Huberdeau ($10.5M), Aleksander Barkov ($10M), Jack Eichel ($10M) or Tyler Seguin ($9.85M). If Nylander hit the open market now, someone would offer him $10M.
Even though the salary cap has been almost flat since the 2019-2020 season due to Covid, and is going up only $1M this year (to $83.5M per team), stars will continue to get paid. Expect quite a few players to join the ranks of the $10M/year earners before this offseason has concluded.
All this being said, it will be very difficult for the Toronto Maple Leafs to find the cap space to pay Nylander $10M. With fellow stars Auston Matthews ($11.6M), John Tavares ($11M) and Mitch Marner ($10.9M) each absorbing big chunks of the team’s cap space, and the team currently sitting about $8M above the cap, Treliving already has his work cut out for him.
The fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t afford to pay William Nylander $10M per season has nothing to do with the fact that Nylander is actually worth that much money. Whether Nylander (and Auston Matthews) accept smaller extensions, or whether trades are made to free up more salary cap to strengthen the supporting roster, remains to be seen.