NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2022

by | Dec 17, 2022 | Rumors | 37 comments

Could the Leafs’ William Nylander end up pricing himself out of Toronto? What’s the latest on the Blue Jackets? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TORONTO STAR/THE ATHLETIC: Nick Kypreos and Jonas Siegel recently examined the effect that William Nylander’s ongoing improvement will have on the Maple Leafs’ efforts to re-sign him when his contract expires in 2024.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander (NHL Images).

With 33 points in 31 games, the 26-year-old winger is on pace to exceed last season’s career-best performance of 34 goals and 80 points. His current average annual value is over $6.96 million and he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free-agent status in July 2024. The Leafs can open contract extension talks on July 1, 2023.

Kypreos noted comparable wingers like the Nashville Predators’ Filip Forsberg and the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin earn between $8 million and $11.6 million annually on long-term contracts. Siegel included the Vancouver Canucks’ J.T. Miller ($8 million annually), the Calgary Flames Jonathan Huberdeau ($10.5 million) and the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Johnny Gaudreau ($9.75 million) on his list of comparables.

Both pundits believe Nylander’s next contract will also be affected by how much Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak gets on his new deal next summer.

Siegel feels Nylander is making his case as an essential part of the Leafs’ roster now and in the future. Kypreos points out that Auston Matthews is due for a new contract at the same time and will likely get between $14.5 million and $15 million annually. He feels Nylander could be in line for north of $10 million annually. If the Leafs believe they can’t afford that, he thinks they could trade him before July 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander isn’t going anywhere this season, of course. He’s invaluable to the Leafs’ hopes of finally staging a run at the Stanley Cup. Nevertheless, he’s going to be an expensive re-signing. Like Matthews, his future in Toronto will become a hot topic in Leafs Nation starting on July 1.

Nylander and Matthews could take up a combined $25 million of cap space starting in 2024-25. Even with the salary cap expected to rise to $88 million by that season, that’s still a big chunk of change, especially when the Leafs also have $31.5 million already invested in that season.

Kypreos and Siegel mentioned the possibility of Nylander coming in at between $8-$9 million annually on his next contract. However, they both acknowledge it could be much higher than that. Considering he settled for $6.9 million annually on his current contract, you can bet his camp won’t settle for anything less than market value, which will likely be at least $10 million annually.


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger believes the struggling Blue Jackets could become popular at the March 3 trade deadline. He speculated there is potential for general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to make multiple deals involving established players for draft picks and/or prospects.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline noted that Blue Jackets pending unrestricted free agents like Vladislav Gavrikov, Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Korpisalo could draw interest in the trade market.

Portzline believes re-signing Gavrikov should be the Blue Jackets’ priority. If that’s not possible, he thinks the 27-year-old defenseman could fetch a late first-round draft pick from a playoff contender.

He also believes they should keep Nyquist around if he’s willing to accept a pay cut. Otherwise, they might be able to get a second-rounder for him in the trade market. Korpisalo could bring in a second or third-round pick depending on his performance between now and deadline day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gavrikov’s solid all-around game will make him an enticing trade chip if the Blue Jackets decide to move him. They shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a playoff club willing to part with a first-rounder.

The Edmonton Oilers could be among the suitors. Portzline’s colleague Daniel Nugent-Bowman noted that the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg and the Montreal Canadiens’ Joel Edmundson have been linked to the Oilers in the rumor mill. However, he believes Gavrikov would be a better option for them. Nugent-Bowman also thinks the Arizona Coyotes’ Jakob Chychrun would be a good fit.


  1. Re “Could the Leafs’ William Nylander end up pricing himself out of Toronto?”

    Perhaps not if, by then, the Leafs D has continued to develop as it is now with young guys like Sandin, Liljegren, Hollowell, Timmins helping to lift them into the 2nd best defensive record in the entire league.

    As discussed the other day, all this without Rielly in the line-up COULD make a case for perhaps dealing him and his $7.5 mil deal … and they’d get a pretty decent return in the bargain as well as retaining Nylander.

    • Well I guess you can look at moving Rielly but understand that before he was injured the Leafs PP was around 28% but since he’s been out it’s dropped to 16%.

      Maybe the young players will develop but being Toronto, can you wait for it to happen or does that need to be now?

      Their best options are to move on from Kerfoot and Engall and maybe one of those young d men….but none of this matters until the end of next year, really. Don’t make moves until you have to.

    • Ron, yeah, I was aware of that % dip in the pp during Rielly’s long absence – but they’ve made up for it in other ways as the results indicate.

      And when dealing with something like a pp, with set routines, the loss of a QB-type like Rielly can and often does result in a % dip until they can compensate with perhaps different approaches and/or someone to better mimic Rielly’s game. It’s a constant moving puzzle when key individual players are absent – but so far Keefe and his coaches have clearly found a suitable formula because the team has responded big time.

      • I’m no Rielly fan and would have liked to see them trade him before the extension but during the playoffs he was much better at not doing the crap that made me want him traded.
        One way I could stomach trading him is if the replace him with Chychrun (or someone of that ilk …that would be a good lateral move that could open cap space and or allow roster changes.

        Having young inexperienced teams leads to unsuccessful postseasons.

    • I’m okay with trading Rielly. I haven’t been a fan since he took over as the #1 on defence.
      You need to keep in mind though, Gio is a big part of what’s kept that D going with all the injuries. I wouldn’t be wise to rely on that continuing to the end of this season, let only next.
      If they let Rielly go they’ll need a clear replacement as #1. Sandin is not that guy. Liljegren? Maybe in a few years, but that’s a big maybe.
      Sandin seems well suited to PP2 but doesn’t have the wheels for PP1 in my opinion. I’d like to see Liljegren get a couple games there.

  2. This salary cap is a nightmare !
    The Leafs have to be passionate and make a run at the Cup for this upcoming year , as their lineup will not be the same next year, or whenever Nylander contact is up ..

  3. I guess nothing before the freeze

    The math in Toronto doesn’t work long term . Maybe Mathews takes $13m aav. But that would be the minimum .Nylander is got to be $8.5. The cap needs to jump a ton. Maybe they both bridge ?

    Not taking anything away from Treliving due to the circumstances but Huberdeau is about a Million overshot. Same with Weegar

  4. Maybe win a Cup before paying guys 15 and 10 million dollars a year. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is definition of insanity. If show they can win when going gets tuff than by all means pay the boys and keep band together.

    • No that is not the definition of insanity it a quote from Einstein.
      Maybe you’d missed how many teams are now locking up their high end players long term avoiding the bridge contract and all the negatives that come with it.

      • It is not an Einstein quote.

      • Sorry…yes it’s often attributed to him, very similar to what many believe is the “very definition”…non-the-less, it still doesn’t change the fact that is not the definition of the word…or does a fact still matter when someone’s wrong? Not here I guess.

  5. @George

    I commented on your Reilly page the other day …
    That might be the ideal route to go , but if you deal him, you still have to take a contract back.

    • Well, that would depend, of course, on where he is dealt. No doubt there are a lot of teams up against the cap limit who couldn’t take him on without moving a contract out – but not all. And even some of those at the limit have expiring UFA contracts coming up after this season and/or RFAs they might be willing to cut loose, thereby freeing up considerable cap space.

  6. Cap may rise significantly in two season.

    Will Toronto offer an 8yr extension

    If no playoff success will Nylander or Matthews want to stay.

    If no playoff success this season do Toronto keep the band together.

    Both players may love the Toronto area and team but without any success they may view Dubas as the general who can’t get to the finish line.

    Lots of unanswer questions between now and then.

    The same question could be asked of Pastrnak if the Bruins don’t win this season and no Bergeron or Krejci next.

    • Caper. If Leafs have no playoff success this year Dubas is not getting resigned

      As for Bruins. I think Pasta will resign 8 x11. I also have feeling 1 maybe both of 46 and 37 will return next year. Just a gut feeling

      • Mr Bruin,
        i think your very close on Pasta @$11.M
        I also think they have to show him they will get him a 1st line centre….if he signs there❓

        Like A Bo Horvat would be perfect fit there, same age plays the Bruins style….
        he would also make a great captain for the Bruins maybe down the road a year.
        1st rd pick and young Brando Carlo, Canucks hold some salary back or the Bruins through in $3.M Mike Reilly

        I dont think they will both be back, the two old Centres 1st & 2nd line….⁉️

        David Krejci will be 37 next year and has looked tired at point’s this year,
        Patrice Bergeron will be 38, thats old to play all these minutes, they may go after Horvat in late January or early Feb just to take some load of these 2 old guys….

    • @Caper

      How is it Dubas’ fault the Leafs can’t “get to the finish line”? Dubas had a plan in place that was derailed by the pandemic causing a loss in revenue for the league and a minimal increase in the cap for the past three seasons. No GM saw that coming. If the cap was higher by $5-7M as expected before the pandemic hit the GM would have had more money at his disposal to augment the roster.

      Perhaps if the players mentioned would take a bit of a cut on their pay the GM would have more money for complementary players?

      I can’t really think of one contract on the Leafs where a player is overpaid.

      • Ww

        I think if they go for Horvat it will be as a UFA. Not at deadline Time will tell in 46 or 37 will return. Doubt they even know yet what they will do Here is hoping they stay both

      • John Tavares.

      • You’re probably right. If it wasn’t for covid the Leaf definitely would have won the cup. Dubas’ plan would have come to fruition and 1967 would have been just another cup year…

    • Daryl, can’t live there, covid had the same effect on all teams.

      Under Dubas leadership Toronto has zero playoff round wins.

      As I said the players may view; meaning on the other hand they may not.

      This could be their year per my preseason prediction I predicted them to go to the finals.

      I based my prediction on what they did with the goaltending.

  7. 🍁The Edmonton Oilers
    Are looking for a Top 6 RW and Top 4 LD-man, its a big hole there on d, I would put them in this order

    1–Gavrikov, CJB
    2–Joel Edmundson, Habs
    3–Jakob Chychrun,
    AZ He could be the first choice if the ask was Not so Much and would be a good fit his dad use to play for the Oilers….⁉️

    😱Not coming to Edmonton –John Klingberg💥
    We dont need a player like that we already have 2 like him Tyson Barrie and Bouchard on d.

    The Ask from AZ…..2 X1st round picks… and a Top Prospect ….
    they will have to take salary back as 26 of the NHL teams are currently at the Max Cap
    or close to it
    only 6 teams have cap space, AZ have $18.7M❗️

    I can see a trade with 1st round pick,
    A-good prospect,
    A-roster player ( Jesse Puiljarvi )
    A-salary dump to cover some of JC $4.5 Salary…..❓

    They also need to sort out there Top 6 RW,
    JP is a 3rd line forward plays better there
    Add a Physical Tough 3rd or 4th line forward who can drop the gloves

  8. Leafs will pay 4 players $50 million on the cap yet 0 playoff series wins. SMRT!

    • @Brock Landers

      Which 4 Leafs players currently make $50M? Matthews $11.6, Tavares $11, Marner $10.9, Nylander $6.9 totals out to $40.4M

      Of those 4 players which one is overpaid?

      Good players aren’t cheap.

      As I said above if the salary cap went up as expected when those players were signed this wouldn’t be a problem.

      Where TOR could have saved money is by keeping Kadri instead of signing Tavares. However, many people were screaming for Kadri to be traded because of his playoff suspensions.

      • Hi Daryl,

        Spending Half your Salary Cap is Not good on 4 players⁉️ Especially All Forwards

        They need one more Top d/man to play 2nd pair with Morgan Rilley to improve there d,
        thats why they have been Bounced the last 6 years in the playoffs

        Who to trade….
        1st, John Tavares❓
        2nd Willie Nylander..❓

        Then bring in a good $6.M to $7.M d/man to balance it out, you need more than Gun & Run in the playoffs you would think the Maple Leafs would have got that buy now…⁉️

      • How much is Kadri’s contract? It’s still less than JT’s but not exactly an exact match in term of what you’re getting. I’d take JT over Kadri and take Kadri over JT when he was still at $5Mish

      • If Nylander wants $10m and Matthews wants $15m, that is close to $50m on just 4 players… Leafs did this to themselves overpaying RFA years by giving Marner $11m when other comparable players were getting $5-$7m.

  9. The leafs can keep both Nylander and Matthews if they can convince Taveras to waive his NMC in 2024.

    Having watched the leafs play against the Flames a few days ago I am not convinced they will have playoff success. They are not all that physical. What makes them so successful in the regular season is they are masters at the stick check and consistently use a long stretch pass creating good opportunities. That game plan will be nullified in the playoffs when things tighten up and the play gets more physical, as well as the refs allow more things go.

    I can see how leaf fans like watching this team play as they play a very exciting and entertaining brand of hockey. Unfortunately that style does not translate well in the playoffs.

    • Convincing Tavares to waive his NMC is one thing – getting him to do so would be quite another if he doesn’t like the possible destination(s). And while he is still a point-a-game C, he does have 2 years to g after this at $11 mil per at the end of which he’ll be pushing 35. Not many teams out there who could afford to absorb THAT cap hit, and those that could are probably locations in which he’d have no interest.

      • Hey George,

        I think they could convince Taveras.

        Some team will take him with a 1st.

        If you explain to Taveras it’s in his best interest to go play one year in another city then bring him back as a free agent to finish his career at a reduced cap hit.

    • So much wrong here… Not you George.

  10. It’s funny how many wanted to trade Nylander for a defenseman or to open up cap space but now they are lamenting his possible departure!

    • He can come to Boston and center Pasta.
      Willy would make a very good center, imo.

      • Hi shorerpark,
        Thanks for the offer but im way too Old…..🙈😂

      • I believe in you, Willie.

  11. @Brock Landers

    Marner is not overpaid. He’s a two time 1st team All-Star RW.

    I’m tired of the narrative about paying all the top offensive players on the Leafs too much. Not one of those players isn’t living up to their salary. Many say Kerfoot ($3.5M) is considered overpaid yet LA just signed a similar player (Moore $4.2M) to a higher AAV than Kerfoot

    Paying a defenceman $7-8M doesn’t guarantee success either. You can look to EDM or STL as examples. What place is EDM in with Nurse making $9.5M or STL with Krug and Parayko making big dollars?

    Rielly may be the odd man out? His minutes could possibly be replaced by Sandin or Liljegren who have similar skill sets. Not to mention Niemela, Villeneuve, and Hollowell are all similar type defencemen.

    You cannot teach a player how to score like Matthews, Marner, and Nylander. You can teach a guy to play defence and they’re typically easier to find at a lower cap hit.