The William Nylander contract saga has been... exhausting, if I want to put it politely. From endless NHL executives who have never been named throwing their opinion around, to so-called NHL insiders filling in THEIR opinion because of a lack of any real information, to an increasingly frustrated and bitterly divided fandom either railing at Nylander’s ‘greed’ or railing back at the people talking about his greed.
Meanwhile, the Leafs have been chugging along just fine. Matthews got off to a torrid start before getting hurt. Kapanen is in the midst of a breakout season where he’s looked electric alongside either Matthews or Kadri. Marner and Tavares are wrecking the league even without Nylander OR Matthews in the lineup.
Mitch Marner & John Tavares. that’s it, that’s the fkn tweet. pic.twitter.com/sJbKjTPr1r— Ayesha (@yagirldin) November 25, 2018
You have Morgan Rielly putting himself in the Norris conversation with an absurd amount of points. You have Travis Dermott slowly taking more minutes and more of a role as he continues to emerge as a solid young defenseman in the league. You have a surprising fourth line built around Josh Leivo, Tyler Ennis and Frderik Gauthier at least outshooting and outchancing teams, while both Ennis and Leivo have started putting some of their chances in the net recently. And we just had an Andreas Johnsson hat trick hinting at even MORE scoring depth that is starting to be realized.
But still the Nylander news cycle continued, sapping some of our joy and replacing it with stupid hot takes and inane media segments where they take 20 minutes to admit they don’t know a damn thing.
Until... this weekend.
It started with a vague but seemingly pointed statement by Babcock on Thursday.
Mike Babcock, on how he feels about #leafs at U.S. Thanksgiving: “Obviously ecstatic. Any way you look at it we’ve got off to a good start. We think our team’s going to be better, we have significant pieces not here and they will be here."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 22, 2018
It exploded on Friday thanks to a random Ohio man that nearly became a legend in Leafs Nation thanks to a run in with Kyle Dubas.
Today I’m making a special guest appearance on LFR with @Steve_Dangle to talk about my conversation with @MapleLeafs GM @kyledubas and how I was treated by Leaf Nation after the 5pm deadline. Check it out! #LeafsNation #Nylander #RyanLacey #LFR https://t.co/hfZZIbE9YY— Ryan Lacey (@rlacey2571) November 25, 2018
While nothing came of that, there has been more and more little bits of conversation from trustworthy insiders, like McKenzie, about how a 3 year bridge deal may work with escalating annual salaries ending at $7 million. Interesting that McKenzie recently started speculating about something so specific...
Or how numerous hockey people have talked about a long term deal in the 6 year, $7ish million AAV range still being on the table.
Even if some of this is trolling, on Saturday during the Leafs’ 6-0 destruction of the Philadelphia Flyers, the intermission had more bits of Leafs talk from guys like Johnston or Friedman that also hinted at SOMETHING.
“It’s interesting that a six-year deal, even at this late stage with next Saturday’s deadline looming, remains a term that is possible for this deal,” Johnston said during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada Saturday. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a six-year deal, but that conversation is going.
“I believe that the Nylander side would accept something around $6.9 million — maybe a little bit above, a shave below seven. They have not yet got to that point but they are believed to be rather close.”
This is the final push in the negotiation and, as Elliotte Friedman reports, the two sides aren’t that far apart at all.
Meanwhile, Babcock has doubled down at any chance to say he expects Nylander to join the team after he went a long time not saying anything so hopeful. Some other seemingly innocent details have come out in this time: Gilman, the Marlies GM noted for his contract expertise, joined the NHL team. Also there’s Kyle Dubas at a Marlies game doing the famous Fortnite Floss dance to signify victory.
IT ALL ADDS UP!
While every good insider has said that there is no deal imminent, there sure seems to be an awful lot of movement in the background doesn’t there?
Putting what his contract may be in terms of salary, cap hit, or long term implications... let’s just imagine this lineup that seems close at hand. Let’s FANTASTZE about it and ENJOY it. We’ve been dreaming about it since Tavares signed and have yet to see a single second of even a pre-season game or practice scrimmage...
Who Cares — Auston Matthews — William Nylander
Who Cares — John Tavares — Mitch Marner
Who Cares — Nazem Kadri — Kasperi Kapanen
Guy — Guy — Guy
HOOK. THAT. RIGHT. IN. TO. MY. FUCKING. VEINS!!!!!!!
You thought the Leafs offense looked ridiculous before? Give the Leafs seven games against fucking Boston again. Give them 7 more against Tampa. Give them 7 against whoever emerges from the garbage pile of the Metro, and then 7 against Nashville or Winnipeg.
Then give them the fucking Stanley Cup. I AM FUCKING HYPED AND MY SUNSHINE OPTIMISM WILL NOT BE RAINED ON BY DOOMSDAY PROPHETS AND AMATEUR CAP SPECTATORS!
WILLIAM IS COMING!
ONTO THE LINKS
Battle of the GTA resumes: Markham Thunder beat Toronto Furies 5-2 | by mediajunkie
Back to Excited Episode 39: Real or Fake | by Fulemin and Arvind
Leafs have lots of room to improve and should start by playing their best more often | by Ian Tulloch at The Athletic
AROUND THE NHL
In case you missed it, Patrick Laine scored 5 goals Saturday against the Blues. Boy the Blues new coach must be feeling great right now eh?
Attention hockey parents: your yearly reminder that Patrick Laine played goal until he was 12. On Laine's historic 5-goal game https://t.co/Y0uyfpKQra— Maco Balkovec (@MacoBalkovec) November 25, 2018
It came on the heels of one of the bigger line/bench brawls between the Jets and the Wild on Friday night.
In other strange happenings, on Saturday night’s game between the Sharks and Golden Knights, the Sharks had both Evander Kane AND coach Peter DeBoer tossed from the game. Barclay Goodrow later joined them for an early shower.
Kane got ejected – and so did Sharks’ coach: Peter DeBoer complained that he "didn't even swear" before being thrown out. https://t.co/0FSXMCgG8G— Kona Nature Tours (@KonaNatureTours) November 25, 2018
There’s some late breaking trade news from Chicago and Arizona.
Im not sure if other picks/prospects involved, but it appears as if main parts of deal are Schmaltz to ARIZ and Strome/Perlini to CHI.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 26, 2018
Have a great Monday everyone!