What better time to find out about William Nylander’s contract status than after No. 88 wrapped up his trip to his native Sweden in style on Sunday?
Some players carry the weight of being an unrestricted free agent and it affects their performance. Nylander is clearly not one of those players. He’s an absolute force and he’s playing like he’s not affected by the game this season.
As we talked about on Thursday’s Insider Trading on TSN, there’s been a lot of silence on the Nylander contract front, but that’s by design. Both sides of this negotiation have a desire to keep things well-kept, and have mutually agreed to do so, and have done so thus far.
But Leafs fans shouldn’t confuse that silence with a red flag. As for the talks themselves, nothing went off track. My understanding is that the dialogue is ongoing and both sides remain committed to finding a solution between now and July 1st.
If either side gets frustrated, we might see more leaks and more messages being sent, but so far we haven’t seen anything like that happen.
But the 27-year-old Nylander continues to play well, with 27 points, one point behind the league scoring lead through Sunday, and increased salary leverage, so there are all the obvious reasons to get this deal done. Obviously difficult. The Leafs remain under the salary cap.
Many rival front offices will be interested in where this extension will land if the Leafs can actually make it happen, but part of the reason is that Toronto already has a $13.25 million annual salary starting next season. That’s because they acquired Auston Matthews for $1,000 and will add one more season in 2024. 25th place goes to John Tavares with $11 million and Mitch Marner with $10.9 million. And obviously, Toronto also needs to plan on extending Marner’s contract for the 2025-26 season.
So I reached out to team executives in rival front offices across the NHL and asked a simple question: What do you think is a fair contract extension for Nylander?
Since he cannot publicly comment on player contract negotiations with other organizations, the following is his response via text message, which is anonymous, of course.
Note: Some answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Team executive No.1
“This is very similar to the Boston (David) Pastrnak situation. Pastrnak signed a contract (eight years, $11.25 million) in March after finishing the season with 61 goals and 113 points. So to me it makes sense. That figure would be eight years north of $11 million. I know Matthews makes $13.25 million a year, but he only has a four-year term. If Nylander signs an eight-year deal for $11.5 million For example, he would have $92 million guaranteed, but to match that amount he would have to raise more than $13 million from outside for a seven-year contract, which would be difficult.
Team executive No.2
“Given the rising cap and the season he’s having, I don’t see why it’s less than $11 million…unless he wants to take advantage of a discount to get to his desired destination.” That means seven to eight years. It’s a yearly contract. ”
Team executive No.3
“My guess is it will be somewhere between $10.5 million and $11 million, depending on the time period.”
Team executive No.4
“That’s a tough question, Pierre. What’s fair and what happens are two different things (smiling emoji). He’s 28 years old and has never scored 90 points before (this season). have never made it past the second round of the playoffs, and have only gotten there once. But our system is based on points, right or wrong. Will he be able to help Toronto win more than the $9.5 million Matthew Tkachuk? Probably not. But that cap goes up and Toronto You’re paying a tax premium. $10 million (average annual value), all the time. You probably get more, but fairness is arbitrary.”
Team executive No.5
“I would first ask what he would get as an open market UFA. I don’t think anyone would get $11 million for him, but I think he would get $10 million. So, If he wants to stay in Toronto, that could be $9 million or $9.5 million with a little local discount.”
Team executive No.6
“It depends on how he thinks about it. Aho (8 years, $9.75 million AAV) is an easy comparison and seems fair. But given the food chain in Toronto, it seems unlikely from what Mr. Marner gets next. It shouldn’t be far. I mean, it jumps into the $10.5 million to $11.5 million area. He’ll have an impact if he wants to, but if he wants to keep the core together with 34 and 16, If there is, he shouldn’t be any better than the idiot who is actually at the top of their food chain. But the idiot buys into the larger framework of the entire organization, and a 34-year-old, a 16-year-old, a 91-year-old player will all surpass him. He didn’t make the grade. (Nylanders) had the right season and a half at the right time. He could make money in free agency. It depends on if he wants to. If he re-signs. If we do that, we can expect 10.5 million to 11.5 million.”
Team executive No.7
“Nylander is a unique player who can have a lot of different opinions. … He’s talented, but some teams won’t make him ‘that guy’ on their team.” Many teams think of him as a shiny sports car to splurge on when your portfolio is all in place. That being said, players like him who deliver are rewarded. He only needs one team, so a team could step up to the $10 million range, but it might not be a competitive team. It’s unclear how many teams are willing to make such a commitment at this point until the cap is raised significantly further. I don’t know how Toronto can fit him into their future team and still address their holes, but I always felt he would remain a Leaf. ”
Team executive No.8
“I think it’s somewhere between Gaudreau (7 years, $9.75 million) and Huberdeau (8 years, $10.5 million). It’s supposed to be south of Pasternak, right?”
Team executive No.9
“I think a fair price is in the range of $10.5 million to $10.75 million.”
Team executive No.10
“I think it’s because of his age… If I were the Leafs, eight years, $8.5 million to $9 million. We need him because we can’t waste Matthews’ prime years. … What more from Nylander?” Can he get a prime year? Three? So, have we gotten fair value in the last three years or so? If he wants tenure, he’s got to keep numbers manageable.”
Team executive No.11
“Game breaker. You can probably count on one hand the number of players as dynamic as him. He can change the game in an instant. Age well. Not every team can afford it, but there are 32 teams. . Somebody will pay. Below Pastrnak, but only. If he wants, he will start at 10.”
Team executive No.12
“Eight years, $11.5 million would be reasonable. Touch on Pastrnak or more. If you look at the internals, he should make more than Marner or Tavares. But it’s eight years, $12? It will be $12.25 million.”
What’s interesting about this exercise is that there are a lot of smart front office people here with different views, going from a low of $9 million AAV in one example to an AAV of $12.25 million in another. It means that it is. What’s also interesting is that everyone who responded assumed that if he re-signed with Toronto, it would be the longest contract, but I’m not sure anyone should 100 percent assume that. Neither side is twisting their hands. In the end, Matthews did not sign the longest contract.
That said, as team executive No. 1 pointed out, the carrot the Leafs have is a total of eight years, compared to up to seven years on the market. Suffice it to say, Tkachuk avoided this issue by doing a sign-and-trade on his way from Calgary to the Florida Panthers for a maximum eight-year contract. So there’s always that possibility.
But let’s get back to what we know. Nylander has expressed her desire to remain in Toronto. So we expect this to happen in Toronto eventually. However, I can’t imagine a maximum term contract that doesn’t involve a double-digit AAV. Nylander has reached a new level in his game at exactly the perfect time in his career.
But if he wants to win in Toronto as well, finding a jersey number that fits the Leafs at some level will be important.
(Photo: Nick Turchiaro/USA Today)