We’re now just weeks away from the opening of NHL training camps and there are still quite a few high profile restricted free agents without commitments for the 2018-19 season. Perhaps no other RFA has as bright a spotlight on him though as Toronto Maple Leafs youngster William Nylander.
The 22 year old Nylander put up a remarkable 20 goals and 60 points in 2017-18 and his four year, $5.3 million entry level deal expired on June 30th. He’s without a contract for next season and analysts predict that he could command a long-term deal in the $6 million to $7 million range per season. Nylander has remained remarkably silent this offseason regarding contract negotiations, but Leafs insider Michael Zeisberger of NHL.com managed to get the young Swede to open up yesterday in an exclusive one on one interview.
Check out some of these quotes:
“Now that contract negotiations have started you’re more aware of what’s going on with things like that,” Nylander said Thursday during the NHL European Player Media Tour. “Right now, once something like that happens, you’re more updated on what’s going on around the League, more educated. But once you sign, I don’t think you pay attention to that.
“There is no extra pressure or urgency to get something done just because guys like [Larkin] sign.”
Interesting choice of words. While he says there’s no extra pressure or urgency to get a deal done, why bring up the Dylan Larkin deal? Larkin, by comparison inked a five year, $30.5 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings earlier this month.
Regardless, it seems like Nylander and Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas are on the same page:
“I’ve said all along that Kyle wanted to take things slow and I’m fine with that,” Nylander said. “They’re going back and forth with my agent from what I hear. We’ll see what happens. They said it would take a while and I’m still not worried. When it gets done, it gets done.”
In addition to Nylander’s new deal, Dubas has also opened negotiations with 2019 RFA’s Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. It’s clear from his words that Nylander would like it best if all three players could be locked up long-term:
“I think it would be amazing,” Nylander said. “We’ve been playing together now for a couple of years and having a lot of fun and a lot of success together. It would be a blast to be together for a long time.”
The thing is… before arriving in Toronto, Nylander had played his entire career at the center ice position. But with Matthews, John Tavares and Nazem Kadri all holding down spots ahead of Nylander at the center depth chart, Nylander seems destined to stick to the wing. It remains to be seen how this affects his decision making on his long term future.
“I think I’ll be on the wing for the next couple of years,” Nylander said. “I don’t think I’ll be going to center unless someone gets hurt, knock on wood.”