NHL Rumor Mill – October 18, 2018
Are the Leafs and William Nylander getting closer to a new contract? Check out the latest in your NHL rumor mill.
IS A NEW DEAL CLOSE FOR NYLANDER?
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby yesterday reported Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas traveled to Switzerland to meet with restricted free agent William Nylander and his representatives. He wonders if this meeting will help bring the four-month stalemate between the two sides to an end. Dubas has until Dec. 1 to get Nylander under contract or the 22-year-old forward will become ineligible to play in the NHL this season.
Dubas has insisted he’s not shopping Nylander, who wants to stick with the Leafs. However, Hornby feels the Leafs GM will have to seriously consider trade offers, perhaps for a defenseman, if there’s no resolution in sight.
Hornby speculates the idea of a bridge contract could be back on the table, with Nylander perhaps taking between $4 million to $5 million annually for two years with the hope of cashing in big afterward.
TSN: “Part of the reason Dubas made his pilgrimage to Switzerland reportedly involved assuring Nylander that the Leafs’ strong start doesn’t diminish how much they want him back in the lineup.”
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle reports sources saying the Nylander impasse appears headed for a bridge-deal solution. The two sides remain far apart on the dollars for a long-term deal, with the Nylander camp asking for something in the $8-million range while the Leafs prefer $6 million.
Mirtle’s sources say it wouldn’t be a one-year contract, meaning it’ll likely be between two-to-four years. He feels the best comparable would be Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s three-year, $14.3-million deal ($4.76 million annual average value).
Mirtle believes it would be the best way to go for Nylander, providing him an opportunity to make much more down the road. It’s not the ideal option for the Leafs, who hoped to get the young forward under a reasonable long-term deal but it would be the best solution to ending this standoff.
THE ATHLETIC: Tony Abbott makes the case for the Minnesota Wild to make a pitch for Nylander if the Leafs aren’t able to resolve the contract situation. Bringing in Nylander could provide the Wild with a game-breaking young star. Abbott suggests a package of defenseman Jared Spurgeon and winger Nino Niederreiter might tempt the Leafs. Nylander would be an upgrade over Niederreiter, though parting with Spurgeon could be a risky move for the Wild.
AZCENTRAL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Richard Morin was asked if the Arizona Coyotes should attempt to acquire Nylander. He believes the Leafs’ asking price would be promising defenseman Jakob Chychrun, a player the Coyotes don’t want to part with. “I’d put the chances of a Nylander trade to Arizona as next-to-none,” said Morin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas heading to Switzerland to meet face-to-face with the Nylander camp suggests the Leafs GM wants to get this situation resolved as soon as possible. Sure, the Leafs are off to a great start without Nylander but Dubas doesn’t want this situation becoming an unnecessary distraction, especially with a Dec. 1 deadline to get the young forward under contract.
A two-to-four year bridge deal for something between $4.7 to $5 million annually appears to be the best solution. The two sides are just too far apart on the dollars for a long-term deal to reach an agreement right now.
As terrific as the Leafs are without Nylander thus far this season, imagine how much better they could be with him in the lineup? The sooner Nylander is re-signed, the quicker he can return to action and get back into game shape. Once he’s up to speed, he’ll become a valuable contributor over the course of this season.
If the Nylander standoff drags on into November, Dubas could be forced to start seriously entertaining trade options. I concur with Morin that Nylander won’t end up in Arizona. Chychrun’s recent knee injuries could also dampen his trade value. An offer of Spurgeon and Niederreiter could be tempting for the Leafs but I don’t think Wild GM Paul Fenton is keen to swing a blockbuster move right now.