Nylander Extension Sets the Leafs Up to Win Stanley Cup in 2026

Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks
Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed William Nylander to an eight-year contract extension worth $11.5 million AAV per season.

With Nylander locked up for almost another decade, the Toronto Maple Leafs have set themselves up to finally win the Stanley Cup during the 2025-26 season.

If money wasn’t an issue, every Leafs fan would love to see the team re-sign Nylander. However, money is a huge issue as there’s a hard salary cap in hockey. Instead of discussing fun trades or player movement, the salary cap rules all conversations, as nothing can happen unless the money makes sense.

That’s the biggest issue with the NHL, a topic for another time, but it’s a harsh reality we live in. The Leafs already have three forwards locked up for over $10 million AAV, and starting in the 2024-25 season, they’ll now have four.

The 2024-25 season will be a little harder to construct a Stanley Cup-winning roster, but once the 2025-26 season starts, the Leafs will be set up for success, and here’s why.

Maple Leafs Lock Up Nylander to Monster Extension

Mitch Marner and John Tavares are both set to become UFAs after the 2024-25 season, which means the team will have $21 million in cap space available, just on two players. Based on the team's willingness to re-sign Nylander for a monster extension, this could mean the end of Marner in Toronto.

Goal-scoring is way harder than playmaking in the NHL, so Marner could find himself as the odd man out now and could be perfect trade bait for the Leafs during either the 2024 summer or near the 2024-25 NHL Trade Deadline.

Imagine the haul they could get for trading Marner. If you can package Marner and get either multiple top-six forwards for the price of one or a world-class defenseman, this team would be much better suited.

Not only could Marner draw attention, but this is the time to convince Tavares to sign for cheap. We’ve seen hometown discounts before, and if Tavares wants to stay as the captain of the team and play in the city he loves, he has to sign a contract at a cheap number. If the team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup by then, he should do whatever it takes to help the rest of the squad, as winning a championship here will pay dividends for his future.

The Nylander contract may seem like too much money, but his skill is too hard to resist, and he’s always brought it in the playoffs, when you can’t say the same thing about the rest of the team. He’s an unbelievable talent, and if you’re picking between him and Marner, I think you have to pick Nylander every time.

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As a result, let’s be thankful a player like this wants to stay in Toronto and embrace a minimum of four more years with Auston Matthews and William Nylander. It may happen this year or even next, but the 2025-26 season will be the Leafs' best chance to win a Stanley Cup thanks to the contract extension signed by Nylander.