NHL Rumor Mill – October 7, 2018
Latest on the Leafs plus an update on Sergei Bobrovsky and Nick Ritchie in your NHL rumor mill.
NYLANDER, MATTHEWS AND MARNER.
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports Toronto Maple Leafs restricted free agent forward William Nylander is still holding firm for a long-term contract. A bridge deal hasn’t been seriously contemplated or discussed at all. December 1 is the deadline for the Leafs to sign Nylander or he becomes ineligible to play the remainder of the season. Kypreos suggests Nylander can offset the money he’s losing in missed games thus far by seeking a signing bonus.
Chris Johnston said the Nylander camp’s initial asking price was comparable to Edmonton Oilers’ center Leon Draisaitl’s $8.5-million annual salary. He doesn’t believe they’ve come down much from that while the Leafs are countering with “something in the sixes”, fitting somewhere in the range of Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million) and Boston’s David Pastrnak ($6.6 million). Neither side seems intent on bending.
NEW YORK POST: If the Leafs can’t re-sign Nylander before Dec. 1, Larry Brooks believes “they will have to trade him, no matter what TV commentator Phineas T. Bluster — er, Brian Burke — thinks about it.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doesn’t appear as though the Nylander standoff is going to end anytime soon. His previous performance doesn’t justify his asking price. His side can argue that the Leafs will be paying for potential but Draisaitl at least put up better numbers and one good playoff performance to justify his contract, even though the Oilers overpaid. That doesn’t mean the Leafs should do the same.
$Six million per season on a five- or six-year contract is more than fair. If Nylander feels he’s worth more, then why not accept a two- or three-year deal and cash in when he’s got arbitration rights? His camp, however, seems to believe the longer this standoff goes the more pressure Leafs management will feel to get the youngster under contract before Dec. 1.
The signing bonus tactic is an interesting one, which could in part explain why the Nylander camp is willing to stage this lengthy standoff. Doesn’t mean the Leafs will be inclined to use it.
The Athletic’s Tyler Dellow recently observed the Leafs could face re-signing Matthews, Marner and Nylander next summer if the latter becomes ineligible to play this season. We’ll find out soon enough if that scenario comes to pass.
So far, the Leafs insist they’re not trading Nylander. However, that could change if this drags on into November.
Elliotte Friedman wonders if the solution is a five- or six-year contract for Nylander. He considers it a big challenge for the Leafs to get Nylander, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner signed for a combined $27 million. Johnston notes Marner and the Leafs have agreed to wait until the end of this season to talk contract while Matthews might be willing to discuss a new deal during this season. Kypreos believes Marner wants to wait and see how much Matthews gets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers feel Matthews is going to get around $12-million annually on his next contract because that’s the going rate for young franchise players. Marner could get around $10 million annually. If the Leafs end up bending and paying Nylander $8 million annually they can forget about getting those three under contract for a combined $27 million. Heck, getting him to agree to $6 million would put them over that mark.
UPDATE ON BOBROVSKY
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks observed Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t get the start during his club’s season opener, speculating nothing good can come of this decision. Bobrovsky is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and is rumored seeking a deal comparable to that of Montreal’s Carey Price’s eight-year, $84-million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a rumor but I felt it was worth noting here. Brooks notes Bobrovsky’s lousy playoff record, though he overlooks the fact “Bob” is the only active multiple Vezina Trophy winner.
Anyway, it was interesting that he didn’t get the start in the season opener against Detroit. He did get the start in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes the following night. Was head coach John Tortorella trying to send a message here? Whatever it was, one wonders if it could become a factor in determining Bobrovsky’s future in Columbus.
NOTHING NEW ON RITCHIE
Nick Kypreos reports there’s nothing new regarding the Anaheim Ducks’ contract impasse with restricted free agent winger Nick Ritchie. The Ducks want to give him a three-year, “take-it-or-leave-it” deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So far, looks like Ritchie prefers leaving it but I daresay he’ll soon reach the point where he’ll have to take it. He’s not as valuable to the Ducks as Nylander is to the Leafs.