NHL Rumor Mill – December 17, 2022
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.
NYLANDER COULD PROVE TOO EXPENSIVE FOR THE LEAFS TO RE-SIGN
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.
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.
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.
LATEST ON THE BLUE JACKETS
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.
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.