William Nylander: To Sign or Not to Sign

We’re 5 days into the 2019 season and there’s one big looming question that is hanging over the Toronto Maple Leafs right now and that is…. Will William Nylander ever sign a contract?

Let’s take a look at a few things surrounding this situation.

The Situation:

Nylander wants to sign a long term contract with the Leafs over a bridge deal.

Kyle Dubas, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has stated in numerous occasions that the organization would love to have Nylander commit long term. In most situations this would be a good thing and show loyalty to a team. But in this situation it isn’t the term. It’s the money that Nylander is asking.

It appears William Nylander’s camp is asking for a lot more. Now most believed that it was a negotiation and that both would eventually come to lesser terms on a long term deal. But Nylander’s camp seems to refuse to come off the $8M AAV. Also as you can see above Ehlers, Monahan and David Pastrnak, as well as Filip Forsberg are the names that the Leafs are clinging to as comparables. Which makes tremendous sense considering these 4 basically had the same production as Nylander and yet received between $6M – $6.7M AAV.

The Player -William Nylander

When William Nylander was drafted there were a few questions concerning his character. My reasons for bringing this up was because when Nylander was drafted the dread of this day was always lingering over the heads of management.

Nylander was considered a top 12 talent in the NHL draft in 2014. All the top 12 interviewed him as he was easily considered one of the top 2 European talents in the draft, the other being Kasperi Kapanen. Scouts were all unanimous on his ability to anything in offensive zone amazingly. But there was 1 thing that scouts were not unanimous about…Was he anything like his father?

Michael Nylander is a retired NHL player who played for 6 different teams in his NHL career. He wasn’t a superstar but a solid NHL player. But once again character came into question.

“In his long NHL career, Michael Nylander had crossed paths with many of the NHL executives and scouts who were evaluating his son, and Michael Nylander hadn’t made a great impression on many of them. In the opinion of one NHL scout who had played with him, “He was a talented guy but a me-first type, selfish. He wasn’t a coach killer, but he wasn’t committed to the team concept. If he gets his goals, gets his contract . . . whatever he can get out of it.”

Another who played with Michael called him “the worst teammate I ever had . . . it was always all about him.”

That Michael played for himself was a common view. Not that he was poison in the dressing room — it was just that he wasn’t what guys thought of as a good soldier, not even a soldier for hire, or a teammate first.”

JOYCE, GARE. YOUNG LEAFS: the Making of a New Hockey History. SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2018.

The real worry was will the younger Nylander turn out to be like his father. Scouts were split down the middle. Some stating that….

“He grew up around NHL arenas, so he knows the drill. Polite, considered his answers, didn’t tell you what he thought you wanted to hear. Talking to him, I didn’t get the idea that he was aware of his father’s reputation around the league.”

While other GMs gave…

“Nylander high grades based on performance came away from the combine pegging him as aloof and “really full of himself.”

The worry with Nylander was always that he would become his father, not putting the team first in negotiations or on the ice. Nylander seemed to be bigger than that so far into his career but most GMs believed that we might not see the real Nylander until contract discussions began. Now I won’t comment on whether or not I feel Nylander is showing his true character or not. But I will leave this, in a statement last week when asked about his contract talks Nylander stated this….

“In the end I have to take care of myself and do what I and my agent thinks is right. Especially if it’s about several years to come. I need to think long term. It’s my own future it’s about.”

Are the Leafs desperate?

Toronto sits at 2-1 for the season after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 7-6 tonight in Overtime. The Leafs have scored 13 goals in 3 games thats an average of 4.33 goals for per game. Offence is not the problem, Nylander might want to be a little careful. It’s the defence of Toronto that needs work and that potentially could be addressed by the rumors of trading Nylander for some defence.

Also let’s face some facts. No one will offer sheet Nylander because at 7.5M or 8M that is a lot of picks for sacrifice for a one dimensional player, who seems to cower in the corners.

But as of now the Leafs are not desperate and totally plan to play the waiting game. But for Nylander every game means a loss of money.


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