Training camp opened, and there was no William Nylander. Training camp continued to the on-ice portions and scrimmage games, but still no William Nylander. And now with the regular season a little over two weeks away from starting, you have to wonder whether we’ll even see Nylander participate in any preseason action.
I’ve been married to the optimistic stance that the contract will be completed at some point. Regardless of the name behind it, Nylander is an RFA and the Leafs have the control in this situation. But this assumed hold-out by Nylander’s camp isn’t doing him any favours (unless he’s going through many training montages a day in Sweden).
So, what do we know so far?
Nylander wants to sign long-term with the Leafs.
William Nylander says he wants a long-term contract with Maple Leafs as opposed to a bridge deal.— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) August 1, 2018
GM Kyle Dubas shared a similar sentiment in his appearance on TSN 1050’s Leafs Lunch saying:
That’s been our focus. I know that the opposite has sort of been written quite a bit. Our major focus has been on longer term. He’s a player that we see as a being a fit with our team for the long-term future. Hopefully the whole time I’m here until they kick me out one day, William is a part of the group. That’s been our focus and there are varying different terms we can go to from one to eight years, but we see William as a long-term piece of our core here. He’s a good young player and we hope in the coming days and weeks to come we can get this sorted out and he’ll be back with the Maple Leafs.
On the surface, it seems term isn’t the determining factor here. Then the obvious hold up in the process is the money. It’s like a law nowadays.
As far as contract and player comparables go, Nylander’s eventual cap-hit should fall in between David Pastrnak ($6.66 million for 6 years) and Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million for 7 years). Dylan Larkin’s deal may help out in that department, as he’ll be sporting a fresh new $6.1 million cap hit on the Detroit Red Wings and their 10 no-trade clause veterans (sorry I couldn’t resist).
However, the definition of term plays a role. What if long term for Dubas is 6 years while long term for Nylander is 8 years. Dubas says, “Alright, we’ll give you $6.25 per for 6 years.” Camp Nylander replies, “Hey, no. With an 8-year deal, you’ll be buying up two UFA years from us. I’d like $7.5 million please to compensate for the extra two years,” and it goes on from there.
Could the stalemate add any weight to the talk of Nylander’s camp apparently wanting something with an 8 in it similar to Leon Draisaitl in Edmonton?
Given Dubas is very aware of the team’s cap structure now and down the line, I doubt that happens. Odds are the Leafs are more on the Ehlers side of the negotiation whereas Nylander’s side is at Pastrnak (plus). Now we have to wait for a side to budge. It’s unfortunate, but Nylander doesn’t seem to be a person afraid of taking a risk and we also have to take into account that his father Michael is very much involved in this ordeal.
But those comparables we rave about all the time had holdouts of their own. Pastrnak signed on September 14th of last year and Ehlers didn’t sign until October 4th!
It could be the delay in the deal is an attempt to drive up the cap-hit on a 6-year deal. Perhaps to get it done, Dubas gives Nylander an AAV slightly higher than Pastrnak — say $6.7-6.75 million.
Here’s another thing I noticed. I’m not sure how much clauses play into contract negotiations, but what if that’s something Nylander wants as well? As much as players say they don’t read the tabloids or headlines, they’re out there, and I’d be rich if I received a dollar for every time the idea of trading Nylander was included in a proposition for the Leafs to acquire a top-flight defenceman.
Both Ehlers and Pastrnak have clauses in the later years of their contracts. Ehlers has a 10-team no-trade clause in the final three years while Pastrnak has that in the final two years as well as a no-move clause. Perhaps Nylander is looking for a little extra security for a longer period of time. Nazem Kadri’s no-trade clause is kicking in this season and John Tavares has a full no-move across the entire length of the contract.
Who knows what is exactly the cause of Nylander not being signed, but the clock is ticking, and at this rate, he might sign October 2nd (*implied reverse jinx*).