NHL Rumor Mill – July 5, 2023
LEAFS, NYLANDER REPORTEDLY FAR APART IN CONTRACT TALKS
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Nick Barden cited TSN’s Chris Johnston’s recent report claiming contract extension talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander “aren’t going well.” The 27-year-old winger is a year away from unrestricted free-agent status and carries an average annual cap hit of just under $7 million on his current contract.
Johnston said the two sides had “a lot of discussions” during the draft in Nashville but “see the world differently at this point in time.” He claimed that Nylander sees himself as a $10 million player based on his points but the Leafs are trying to get him at a lower number.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reminds us that Nylander and the Leafs played contract chicken during the first half of the 2018-19 season when he was a restricted free agent. The staring contest went down to the Dec. 1 deadline before the two sides agreed to his current deal.
Hornby notes that Nylander hit career highs this season with 40 goals and 87 points. The winger was also fourth in playoff scoring with 10 points despite seeing less ice time than Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is reportedly offering the Nylander camp an AAV of $9 million. Meanwhile, has to get a new contract hammered out for Matthews before next summer and keep an eye on a new deal for Marner before the summer of 2025.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander’s previous contract standoff never sat well with some Leafs fans, who’ve used it as a cudgel against the winger whenever he hasn’t played up to their expectations. Another lengthy negotiation will likely prompt them to demand that Treliving trade him as soon as possible for the best potential return.
Treliving wasn’t the general manager during Nylander’s 2018 contract talks. However, he’s inherited limited cap room from his predecessor, who had no problem tossing cash around on Matthews, Marner and John Tavares.
Back then, the argument was Nylander wasn’t in the same class as his three high-profile teammates. Nevertheless, he has steadily improved since 2018-19 into a point-per-game player. He’s also garnered a reputation as a reliable playoff performer.
As Johnston said, Nylander made a reasonable argument that he’s a $10 million per season player. If the Leafs won’t pay him that much, other clubs will, especially if he hits the open market next summer with a salary cap expected to significantly jump following four seasons of stagnation.
I think the Leafs will open the vault for Matthews and Marner but not for Nylander. He could end up playing elsewhere in 2024-25 as a free agent unless the Leafs decide to trade him this summer. Either way, I expect he’ll shine with his new club to the consternation of his critics in Toronto.
LEAFS TRYING TO TRADE MURRAY
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited Chris Johnston reporting the Leafs are trying to shed the final season of goaltender Matt Murray’s contract for salary-cap relief. He’s on their books for $4.6 million for 2023-24 before becoming a UFA next summer.
According to Johnston, the Leafs would prefer a trade. However, they might avail themselves of the second buyout window if a trade fails to materialize. Teams can use that second buyout window if they have a player who files for salary arbitration. Restricted free-agent goaltender Ilya Samsonov could opt to go that route. The filing deadline is 5 pm on July 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s injury history and 10-team no-trade clause could make a buyout more likely than a trade.
LATEST ON DEBRINCAT
SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan looked at three possible scenarios for Ottawa Senators winger Alex DeBrincat. The 25-year-old restricted free-agent winger reportedly prefers a trade to an American club but the Senators are having difficulty finding a suitable deal.
One outcome is DeBrincat returns to the Senators this season on an arbitration deal. However, the club has filed to take him to arbitration meaning the maximum award would be 15 percent less than what his qualifying offer ($9 million) would’ve been. They could attempt to move him later in the season near the trade deadline or keep him for a potential playoff run.
Another sees him signing a bridge deal with the Senators for two or three years. That would buy the Senators more time to find a suitable trade package while DeBrincat could become a UFA at 27 or 28 and cash in big on the open market.
The other, more likely outcome is a trade. That would depend on the Senators finding a return that helps them now while the DeBrincat camp find a contract they can live with, though perhaps not the long-term deal they recently envisioned.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might be to DeBrincat’s advantage to accept a short-term deal to facilitate a trade. The cap is going to rise substantially for 2024-25 and 2025-26. He’d then be in a better position to find a more lucrative long-term deal either with his new team or on the open market.
ARE THE SHARKS AND CANUCKS WORKING ON A MYERS-FOR-LABANC TRADE?
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reporting the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks have a deal on the table involving Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers. It would see Myers head to San Jose straight up for winger Kevin Labanc.
So far, that deal has yet to materialize. Seravalli claimed the Canucks were exasperated that this offer has sat on the table for some time now.
Peng speculates the Sharks prefer waiting until Myers is paid his $5 million signing bonus on Sept. 1. After that, the Sharks would only have to pay him $1 million of his remaining actual salary, though the $6 million cap hit would count against their salary cap for this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that’s the case I expect the Sharks would’ve communicated that to the Canucks by now. The delay could also be due to the Sharks’ efforts to trade Erik Karlsson.