The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Making a Massive Mistake

If the rumours are true, the Leafs are making a terrible decision. No surprise there.
Dec 14, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (88) skates
Dec 14, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (88) skates / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It would be hard to imagine a GM having a worse time right now than the Toronto Maple Leafs Brad Treliving.

Not only is his old team, the Calgary Flames, a complete and utter disaster, the Toronto Maple Leafs ain't doing much better.

While the Leafs have been getting OK to good results this year, they aren't even close to the dominant force they were expected to be, and when you compare them to last year's version, they look somebody's idea of a bad joke.

This is a team whose playoff appearance is not assured, despite getting near MVP performances from Auston Matthews and William Nylander. One of the main reasons for this, of course, is that Brad Treliving flushed $20 million dollars of cap-space down the toilet on one of the worst summer spending sprees the NHL has ever seen.

Which brings us to William Nylander

The Toronto Maple Leafs are Making a Big Dumb Mistake

I don't know if there is anything with a more obvious outcome in pro hockey than the massive extension for the 28 year-old having a carrer-year.

Eight years takes Nyladner to 36, and he is more likely than not start to experience decline in his game as he approaches and then hits 30. These contracts almost never work out.

Tier 1 players - we're talking Sidney Crosby Level - do not decilne and tend to be amazing forever. For everyone else it's a crapshoot. For every effective player continuing on into their 30s, you get ten who can't keep it going.

At the high-end of the salary spectrum, these are just dumb bets to make, because the opportunity cost is enourmous, and the odds of it working out are low.

And even if the bet works out, what's the upside? An $11 million dollar cap hit for a player an offensive winger? Nylanders are great complimentary pieces, but overall, they are luxuries.

Mitch Marner brings being an elite defender to the table, but Nylander is far more one-dimensional. Nylander doesn't kill penatlies, he isn't a centre.

Don't get me wrong - he is an awesome player, and I would like the Leafs to keep him on their roster for his entrie career. I just don't think he's the kind of player you invest so heavily in.

Especially wnen that investment is coming at a time when he is at the very peak of his powers. Nylander is a star and always has been, but he's never been on this level before. Therefore, it would be prudent to ask how he got here, and if he is likely to stay at this level.

He could, but it isn't likely. Since it's not likely, and since he is in his prime and at his peak, he makes a very excellent trade chip. Especially when you consider the way the Leafs are constructed.

The Leafs are stacked at forward, and all their best up-and-coming players also play forward. They are very weak on defense, and their entire window for winning has never featured a top defenseman, the kind you could use William Nylander to acquire.

I actually don't care about having 4 x super-expensive forwards. The Leafs proved already that you could opporate with a top heavy roster and fill in the blanks by being smart and understanding value. They got screwed by covid, but even if they didn't, they were still top Cup Contenders for years (and easily could have won with a bounce here or there) during a time when the cap was frozen.

With the cap going up, they can surely compete with a studs and duds lineup, which is, in fact, the optimal way to opporate in a salary cap league. They just shouldn't invest heavily in Nylander. You don't give Nylander Pastrnak money. Come on.

Signing a player at his peak, who hasn't shown this level before, who is approaching 30 and who is just a scoring winger, on a team that is strong on offense and very weak on the blue-line, is just dumb in every way.

And its even dumber that they let it go for this long, and could be forced to make this trade in-season when it should damn-well have been done in the summer when the team might have had some leverage in trade talks.

Finally, Brad Treliving signed Nazem Kadri and Jon Huberdeau to similar deals to simiar ages. How did those work out, and does this guy not learn from his mistakes?

Next. Latest Nylander Trade Rumour Worse Than Contract Rumour. Latest Nylander Trade Rumour Worse Than Contract Rumour. dark