While things seems to go smoothly this offseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they landed coveted free agent John Tavares, there appears to be now one major obstacle in the road.
The major stalemate in contract negotiations between the Leafs and free agent William Nylander have become a serious problem.
There are reports Nylander remains in Sweden while a sizable gap remains in negotiations between the two sides. His camp seeks a lucrative long-term deal.
NHL insider Darren Dreger has revealed that the Leafs are willing to pay him $6 million annually but there’s speculation the Nylander camp seeks $8 million per season, which Dreger doubts he’ll get.
Dreger pointed out the Leafs’ offer would be comparable to the annual average value received by Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan ($6.375 million), Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak ($6.66 million) and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers ($6 million).
Without a new contract, Nylander cannot attend training camp. The young forward does not have much leverage here, and could on the contrary hurt his performance once he settles. Many believe he will not get more than the expected $6 million and GM Kyle Dubas could choose to outwait him. However, what if Dubas trades him if the situation grows contentious?
“There are others, not Leafs connected, but others around the league that think his ask may have been around $8M or higher," noted Dreger.
Here are some of the players who have a cap hit of $8 million or more for the upcoming season, as per Cap Friendly.
Nylander seems to be asking way too much and could lose his battle in the end? Nylander's agent Lewis Gross and Dubas have been working on a new deal since sitting down for a couple meetings in late June during the draft weekend in Dallas. However, now, they are still far apart on numbers... This is a shocking twist in the saga, since just last week, some pundits were saying that things were well underway and an agreement could be done prior to the Leafs' training camp.
That has changed for the worst...
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman also noted that both parties are not close... Not close at all.
What would you do if you were Dubas? Would you trade Nylander and ensure you have room for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in the summer of 2019? Get a good return for the blue line?
Head coach Mike Babcock already sees the positive if ever Nylander is not part of the lineup at the start of the season.
“We get to find another player,” said Babcock to the Toronto Star. “Someone is going to play with (Auston) Matthews that wasn’t going to play with Matthews. They’re going to get a heck of an opportunity and we might find a player out of that, and then we’re ahead of the game."