“It’s Very Complicated”: Former Maple Leafs Exec Discusses Nylander Contract Difficulties

We learned last weekend that William Nylander has given his agent the 'ok' to continue to talk contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the season. But what are the parameters that could actually work to keep the pending UFA in Toronto?

Former Maple Leafs executive and current TSN hockey analyst Dave Poulin says getting to an agreeable number is "very complicated."

The problem is they have four forwards making top dollar. (Nylander is) making $4M less than Mitch Marner and $5M less than Auston Matthews. You have to look at it and say, Matthews got a raise. Is Marner is going to get a raise? And where does Nylander fit in? Because he should be right up there with Marner... Is Nylander willing to be the guy again who takes a discount? And that was a big discount! (signed 5 years ago at $6.9M AAV). $4M less than Marner for the last four years!      

The one saving grace for the Leafs on the salary cap front, as noted by Poulin, is that John Tavares' $11M cap hit comes off the books after next season. But Poulin says that once you pay Nylander his raise, and then Marner next year, and the money that Matthews signed for this summer, you've "absorbed" Tavares' entire cap hit, "and you're right back where you started."

It's very complicated. And they've got (assistant GM) Brandon Pridham, who's the best, working on it. It's just a matter of whether it can be a fit the way it is... I do know that William Nylander wants to stay in Toronto, and I do think the team wants to keep him. Whether that number fits at the forward position will remain to be seen. 

The last time Nylander went through a contract negotiation with the Leafs, in 2018, it led to a two-month holdout before a deal was struck. The good news is that he'll be in the lineup Wednesday night and willing to play through the negotiations this time around. 

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