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The Nylander Extension

What's a 40-goal winger worth?

Several reports have indicated that Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander are far apart in their negotiations.

Brad Treliving has said that he is confident that the deal will get done, but he seems to have a clear ceiling he can and will sign the 26-year-old for.

It's well known at this point that William Nylander is looking for close to $10 million AAV on his next contract while the Leafs would rather see him sign for around $8 million.

That’s a sizeable gap with less than three months until opening night.

The importance of this particular negotiation cannot be understated when looking at the Leafs' overall salary cap structure moving forward.

Leafs fans will be far too familiar with the fact that Nylander and his agent Lewis Gross aren't afraid to drag out a long negotiation to get what they want. Back in 2018, Nylander held out for 26 games into the regular season and signed just hours before the 5 pm deadline on December 1st.

The contract was a six-year deal with an AAV of $6.9 million. When it was announced, it seemed like a huge overpay for a player who had scored 22 goals and 61 points in his best season, but after these past few seasons in which Nylander has scored over 30 goals and 80 points in each, it seems he’s one of the League’s most team-friendly contracts at just under $7 million.

After Nylander got what he wanted from the Leafs following a long holdout, Mitch Marner did the same thing on a smaller scale the next offseason, waiting until the start of training camp to sign his six-year extension at $10.9 million AAV.

Brad Treliving can't let that happen again.

As the new GM on the block, Treliving has to hold firm in this negotiation. Not just for this particular deal, but to set an example for future negotiations. If Nylander commands over $10 million from the Leafs now, what will Mitch Marner ask for next season? What will Matthew Knies be owed at the end of his ELC?

The NHL estimates that the salary cap will see a $4 million increase next offseason, and a $4.5 million increase in 2025-26. If Nylander were to sign for $9 million today, he would be eating up roughly 10.8 percent of the team’s salary cap. That sounds like a lot, but in just two seasons, that same contract would only be taking up about 9.8 percent of the cap. Provided the cap continues to increase by roughly the same margin, (and we have reason to believe it may even go up by more), Nylander’s deal would take up less than his last one did by 2026-27.

Nylander is coming off a career-best 40 goals and 87 points last season. He was only outscored by 4 right-wingers league-wide. Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, David Pastrnak, and Nikita Kucherov. Unfortunately for the Leafs, all of those players make more than $9 million per year.

Something Nylander's camp has definitely pointed out.

Ultimately, we may not see an extension for Nylander anytime soon. However, when it is announced, it will have massive ramifications for the rest of the team.

Dave Felsbourg

Saturday, July 15, 2023

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