Toronto Maple Leafs Prediction: William Nylander Is Getting Traded

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 don’t need to sign William Nylander until next season, but that won’t matter if the club decides to trade him.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were successful in getting Auston Matthews signed, but have yet to deal with Nylander.

Recently Treliving said that signing Nylander was a priority, but he can’t possibly like his current blue-line and Nylander is, my far, the Leafs best currency if they want to improve their team.

Nylander is an excellent player and extremely underrated by Leafs fans, but any team with a blue-line this bad has to consider trading their 3rd best forward for help.

Toronto Maple Leafs Prediction: William Nylander Is Getting Traded

This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but Nylander is getting traded.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have an absolutely horrendous blue-line.  Trading Nylander can fix that.

In fact, trading Nylander is the only way to fix it.

If the Leafs had an elite player at the top of their blue-line they would have a decent, maybe even great group of defensemen.

The reason their blue-line is bad is because it has no elite players, and nobody who is likely to become one.

Other than trading Nylander, the Leafs likely couldn’t come up with a good enough package to land an elite defenseman, let alone the cap room to do so.

Additionally, Nylander is unsigned, the team can’t be happy with it’s current blue-line, and the new GM has yet to put his mark on the team – it all adds up to a Nylander trade.

But the biggest reason of all to make this move is because the Toronto Maple Leafs cannot compete with their current blue-line.

Losing Holl and Schenn shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but they didn’t replace any of the toughness that those two brought.  Additionally, McCabe, Giordano and Brodie were all looked at as solid border-line star players heading into the playoffs (maybe not Giordano, but he and Liljegren had put up excellent 3rd pairing numbers all last season) and now there are concerns that they are all in decline.

No upside, no physicality and no elite players on the blue-line could threaten to sabotage the season, so the Leafs have to act.

Therefore Nylander is going to be traded.  It’s the most obvious equation I’ve ever seen: the Leafs are in the prime of their window to contend, and their lineup has 4 elite forwards and 0 elite defenseman.

There is no way the Leafs want to enter this season with their current blue-line, and they don’t want to pay Nylander $10 million into his 30s.  It is funny to advocate for this, since I’ve defended against the idea of trading Nylander against what were, frankly, horrible talent evaluations, for years.

There are three options for a trade, in my opinion.

First, New Jersey.  They have Luke Hughes and Simon Nemac, both of whom are thought to be potential elite top pairing defenseman.  They probably won’t want to trade one of them, but you never know.

Second, Colorado.  They have Bowen Byram, whom they might move since they also have Devon Toews, and Cale Makar.  They are fairly weak upfront with Landeskog out.  There are injury concerns here, but that might actually make a trade more likely since potential #1 defenseman aren’t exactly easy to trade for even if you have Nylander to dangle.

Third, Ottawa. The Senators have Thomas Chabot and they could move him because they also have Jake Sanderson and Jacob Chychrun so they may consider a move here as well.

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All three players figure to be superstar defenseman for the coming years.  The Leafs blue-line would look significantly better with one of them.

You hate to see Nylander go, but it’s gonna happen.