The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Stand Firm in Nylander Negotiations

William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be in no rush to get William Nylander and Auston Matthews signed to extensions.

As both of the Toronto maple Leafs core players head toward unrestricted free agency after this coming season, a prevalent thought has been to get them signed quickly or look at trade options.

While it would be nice for the Leafs to get their affairs in order regarding these two important players, all has been quiet surrounding any potential negotiations.

It has been reported that Nylander is seeking a deal worth $10 million per season. If this is his asking price the Leafs are right to play the waiting game. There are multiple reasons for them to be patient.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Stand Firm in Nylander Negotiations

A common suggestion has been to trade Nylander for help on the blue line. It sounds good in theory, but the returning value in a trade is not likely to match Nylander’s worth.

It would have to be an upper-echelon defenseman that plays for a team with a stockpile of them that needs scoring in return. Plus, the salaries would have to match.

Draft picks are of no use to the Leafs since they are in a contending window. There are too many variables to find a trade that would satisfy both teams.

As a new season approaches, a significant trade like this becomes less likely. Moving a player of Nylander’s caliber is the type of trade that usually happens around draft time.

Should the contract stalemate continue through this coming season, the return in a trade will diminish as unrestricted free agency nears.

To trade Nylander for defense help weakens the Leafs up front. It would also put an increased dependency on aging captain John Tavares. That is a risky proposition if you are the Leafs.

The best option for the Leafs is to let Nylander play out the last year of his contract. They can then revisit talks later in the season or before next summer’s free agency.

If they choose this route, Nylander’s 2023-2024 season will influence talks. Should he continue to be an ascending player, he is unlikely to budge from that $10 million AAV. Should his production stumble slightly, he loses leverage in negotiations.

Also, looking ahead to the 2024-2025 season, the NHL’s salary cap is expected to increase. Waiting until the end of next season buys the Leafs time to further assess Nylander’s play and decide what is a comfortable deal for them.

Pushing a Nylander extension down the road also presents the Leafs the opportunity to assess the young talent on their roster.

The Leafs had to be excited with the cameo made by Matthew Knies at the end of last season. Nick Robertson has flashed during his brief appearances with the team when he has not been injured.

During this coming season, if either of them becomes an NHL regular who can display a scoring touch, it will provide another option for the Leafs.

Perhaps, one of them gives the Leafs the confidence to let Nylander walk. A young scoring winger, but on a team-friendly deal provides the team with more leverage.

The Leafs could then use the saved money from a Nylander extension and put it toward other roster needs in free agency.

There are some noteworthy names eligible to hit the market in 2024. Even if a few of the potential UFAs don’t make it to July 1st, the Leafs will have lots of options to spend their money elsewhere.

In the end, there is no need for the Toronto Maple Leafs to rush a Nylander extension. He is a polarizing player that is unlikely to change.

The Leafs should insist a new deal be on their terms. At the very least, it should lean in favor of the team.

Next. That Time the Leafs Wasted About 25 Draft Picks. dark

General manager Brad Treliving has a chance to set a precedent with new contracts for the Leafs core players, but patience is the key.