The deadline for William Nylander to sign a contract before he’s ineligible to play for the rest of the 2018-19 season is just 10 days away. Nylander has until 5pm EST on December 1 to get his situation sorted out or else he’ll be playing the rest of the season either in the KHL or Switzerland or whichever league he probably already has a tentative deal with as a backup plan. We’ve talked about Nylander a ton so far over the course of the last 2 months so I’m sure that everybody already knows the situation we’re dealing with. But just in case you’re new around here, this is the deal:
William Nylander is a restricted free agent. The report is that he and his camp are looking to make somewhere around $8 million per year on a long-term contract. The Toronto Maple Leafs simply do not have that much money to be throwing around to Nylander considering they also have to pay Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner next summer. So Nylander wants around $8M, the Maple Leafs aren’t going to pay him that much, and the two sides haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet even if it’s just on a 2-3 year bridge deal meeting somewhere in the middle at around $5-6M. It’s a good ol’ fashion Swedish stand off, and unless it’s resolved by 5pm on December 1, it will have to wait until next season.
Now the best case scenario for William Nylander for this year would be that the Maple Leafs would struggle to gel offensively, and they’d struggle early on this season and become desperate for a spark. That spark would come in the form of Nylander returning to Toronto. But the exact opposite has happened, actually. The Leafs are a wagon. They are currently in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, only 1 point behind the league leading Nashville Predators, and they’ve been playing the past few weeks without Auston Matthews. So once he returns around the end of the month, they’ll already be getting better than they currently are. Sooooo yeah, the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t need William Nylander. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t love to have William Nylander. But it’s not like they’re desperate for him right now. And if they’re not desperate for him to play, then they sure as shit aren’t going to be paying him $8M long term. If for any reason William Nylander’s agent thinks that $8M is still going to work out with the Toronto Maple Leafs, then he needs to fire that agent immediately because he is a brain dead bozo.
Nylander only has 2 hopes here if he wants to play in the NHL this season. Option one is that he can swallow his pride a little bit and sign a bridge deal–which in my opinion is his best option. I love William Nylander. I think he’s fun as shit to watch and he’s a great player. But c’mon, man. You’ve been in the league for 3 years and your career high is 22 goals. You’re not quite at a point in your career yet where you can hold a team hostage like this. Take a bridge deal, prove yourself over the course of the next couple seasons, and then get your pay day.
Option two would be if Toronto can work out a trade for Nylander before the December 1 deadline. Now Thanksgiving is typically a benchmark on the calendar for desperate teams to take some pretty drastic measures. It’s the reason why we saw two teams fire their coach already this week. Legitimate contenders can wait until the trade deadline to make some additions for a playoff push. But teams get desperate around Thanksgiving to turn things around in time to be in the playoff hunt in March. So a team like the Carolina Hurricanes could be pretty desperate right now and they’d be able to offer Kyle Dubas a trade that is much more appealing to him than having to deal with this Nylander shit for any longer. I think if William Nylander is going to get traded, this would be the weekend it happens. That’s pretty self-explanatory, however, considering next weekend is the deadline. But still. This would be the point in the season that we’d see something like that happen.
The only issue there is William Nylander has to ask himself if he’s ready to take on that label for the rest of his career. At that point, Nylander is going to always be a guy who went with money over winning. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. You never know how long your career is going to be so you might as well make as much bank as you can while you’re young and healthy. But if William Nylander gets traded instead of signing with the Maple Leafs, it’s because he made the decision that his bank account is worth more to him than riding it out with a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. And again–there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying William Nylander needs to value winning more than he values money. But he just needs to make sure he’s okay with having that label on him for the rest of his career. Because people will love you regardless if you’re winning. Everybody always loves a winner. But if you’re making a ton of money AND you’re losing? They’ll turn on you and they’ll turn on you fast.