We’re just days away from the opening of NHL training camp and there are still several prominent restricted free agents without a deal in place for the upcoming season. Former top pick Sam Reinhart needs a new deal with the Buffalo Sabres, and stud defensemen Shea Theodore, Josh Morrissey and Darnell Nurse all need new pacts with their teams before they can take to the ice. Perhaps the biggest RFA of all though is Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander.
The 22 year old Swedish sniper scored 20 goals and 61 points in 82 games with the Leafs and is in line to get paid LARGE on his next deal. So… what’s the hold up? Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock this offseason, the Leafs added an expensive piece to their roster this offseason, inking superstar John Tavares to a massive deal in free agency. With extensions on the horizon for Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, as well… well let’s just say the Leafs are holding Nylander’s feet to the fire a bit. The addition of Tavares, along with potential long term deals for Marner and Matthews have complicated things for rookie GM Kyle Dubas, who is clearly taking his time negotiating Nylander's next contract.
Despite this apparent stalemate in negotiations between the Leafs and Nylander, Tavares himself is personally expecting the youngster to be at Leafs training camp when it opens later this week:
John Tavares: “We believe we’re going to have Willy (Nylander) here to start camp.”
In order to be at camp Nylander must have an agreement in place. Does this mean that Tavares knows something we don’t? Probably not, but his choice of words is interesting nonetheless.
The Leafs currently have about $13 million in cap space, so fitting Nylander under the cap for this season shouldn’t be an issue. Again, it’s the deals for Marner and Matthews that could complicate things for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, however Dubas has maintained all along that the team WILL be able to keep all four stars locked up long-term. How? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…