The Toronto Maple Leafs are Gambling on This Year's Version of Nylander

Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be nearing an extension with star winger William Nylander.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that the team and Nylander are closing in on a maximum, eight-year extension with an average annual value of around $11.5 million.

If the deal is finalized, Nylander's bet on himself will have paid off. Preseason reports stated his asking price was $10 million per year.

Nylander's play has been at an MVP level this season, and the Leafs are taking a gamble that this year's version of Nylander will be the same player moving forward.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are Gambling on This Year's Version of Nylander

The Leafs and general manager Brad Treliving are taking many risks by signing Nylander to an eight-year deal.

Even though the average annual value might be eye-opening, especially when compared to an elite, year-over-year fifty-goal scorer such as David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, Nylander's performance this year justifies that number.

Nylander has been remarkably consistent this season. He has only had a handful of games without registering a point to go along with multiple consecutive game-point streaks.

The Leafs are banking on this to continue, but the enigmatic Nylander of prior seasons has at times demonstrated indifferent or disengaged play.

Another concern? The extent of Nylander's contributions revolve around offense. He offers little help defensively. If he is not putting up numbers, his contributions are limited.

The most considerable concern of long-term deals is the backend years of an aging player. If the Leafs get 5 or 6 years of 40-goal, 100-point production from Nylander, this is a good deal.

With an increasing NHL salary cap, the percentage hit of Nylander's AAV on the Leafs will decrease with each passing season, but the final couple of contract years have the potential to be a salary cap burden because of declining performance from an aging player.

For now, both the player and the team should be happy. Nylander has secured a maximum deal that pays him fair value for his current production. The Toronto Maple Leafs have tied up their second most valuable forward (based on this current season) for years to come, at an appropriate number below the AAV given to Auston Matthews.

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Time will tell whether the Toronto Maple Leafs and Treliving have made a wise investment, but for the foreseeable future, they have locked up a productive and important piece of the team.