Can the Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Nylander Already?

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) /
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Why haven’t the Toronto Maple Leafs traded William Nylander already?

William Nylander is an elite offensive player on one of the most team-friendly deals in the NHL, but the Toronto Maple Leafs need to trade him immediately, while his value is high.

Instead of making a splash and giving us new players to root for, the Leafs are the same team as they’ve been for the last few years, as the core four, defensive group, goaltender, and coach are all the same. Although it’s time to move on, for whatever reason, this organization has yet to trade its most valuable asset.

Sure, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner could fetch something better, but based on the structure of this roster and his contract, Nylander is the best asset for the Leafs. Pair that with a draft pick and a high-end prospect, and there’s no reason to believe that Toronto can’t get a number-one defenseman in return.

I’m typically an optimistic Leafs fan and believe that good things are coming, but when I look at this roster, I can’t mentally talk myself into thinking this team will be good. In fact, I get angry every time I see this roster because I have no idea why Brad Treliving thinks that Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, and Ryan Reaves are the answers to winning.

Over the past four years, offense has never been an issue for this team. Sure, they could have used a bit more depth, but overall, it’s team toughness and a stronger defense that this team has been lacking.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Must Trade Nylander for Defenseman

The past Stanley Cup champions have all had a legitimate number-one  defenseman in their lineup, and Toronto hasn’t. We’ve seen year after year that offensive talent doesn’t win by itself; you need a strong defensive group to get the job done.

The Florida Panthers, who beat the Leafs in five games last spring, not only had Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Carter Verhaeghe, and Sam Reinhart, who are all 30 or 40 goal scorers, but they also had Brandon Montour, Aaron Ekblad, Radko Gudas, and Gustav Forsling to complement their forward group.

Unless Toronto makes a change, they’re going to be in the same situation yet again this year: Playoff-bound with a quick exit.

Back to Nylander.

40-goal scorers don’t grow on trees, and they don’t typically make less than $7 million, yet that’s where Nylander sits. He may be a pending UFA, but a team with cap space would have no issue paying him between $9-10 million next year to be their top winger.

The Leafs already have a strong top-six, even if Nylander never plays a game with them, so they need to trade him for a defenseman ASAP. If the team doesn’t trade Nylander this year, it’s basically malpractice, and the entire organization should be ashamed of themselves.

Matthews and Marner are a top-three duo in the NHL and can carry the majority of the offensive workload alone. However, even if they disappoint, this team still has John Tavares, Matthew Knies, Calle Jarnkrok, Bertuzzi, and Domi to score a few goals when it matters.

Prediction: Nylander Will Be Traded. dark. Next

However, they don’t have a number-one defenseman who can play 30 minutes per night, and that’s a major thing they’re missing. If Treliving doesn’t trade Nylander for a defenseman this year, it’s going to be one of the worst decisions in Leafs history, as it’s no secret what this team needs.