At this point, the William Nylander situation seems more like an episode of The Young and the Restless as opposed to a contract dispute. With Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reporting on Saturday that Kyle Dubas is officially asking teams about who they would give up for the aforementioned Nylander, the story is getting even more intense for Toronto fans and media alike.
Realistically, next to nobody has any idea what is actually going on between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander's camp. Unless you're a member of either party, then everything you've heard is just speculation. With that being said, there is a lot to talk about based on all of this speculation alone.
First and foremost, obviously Elliotte Friedman is a pretty reliable source when it comes to NHL news, so the Dubas news is more than likely true. That doesn't mean, however, that William Nylander will be traded before the December 1st signing deadline; and in all honesty, I don't think he should be traded anywhere. To me, this is a strong negotiation tactic from Kyle Dubas.
How often have you heard anything solid come out from the Toronto Maple Leafs since both Dubas, and former mentor Lou Lamoriello, got their hands on this team? The Leafs have basically been Fort Knox since day one, you aren't getting anything out of those boys. So do you honestly think this big piece of news came out about William Nylander's future on accident? How would you feel if you're Nylander, and you hear that if you don't hurry up and sign a contract, you'll be ripped away from great friends like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, along with best friend Kasperi Kapanen?
I could be way off based with this one, but it just seems like Kyle Dubas may be trying to play with the human side of Nylander. The problem there, exists in Willy's father, Michael Nylander. Michael had plenty of contract dispute issues in his own 15 year career, which included playing time with nine different NHL teams. The career was highlighted by him sitting out an entire season for the Calgary Flames in 1996-97 for similar reasons as Willy. This same man, is the one helping both Nylander and his agent, Lewis Gross, with contract decisions; so, maybe don't be so surprised that everything you've heard has been hard-headedness from both sides of the deal..
If I'm Kyle Dubas, and the rest of the Maple Leafs front office, then I still feel like I'm in the driver seat. Maybe that sounds a little out there considering the injury to generational superstar Auston Matthews; but the short term injury doesn't really affect the long term implications of having William Nylander. Does Nylander make this team better? 100%, yes. However, does it really matter when you've seen what this team can do, when healthy, without him? I don't think so. So realistically, there's no pressing need to sign Willy to a ridiculously overpriced deal.
On the side of the Nylander camp, your'e losing money literally every single day. The longer this goes on, the more you end up losing; and in turn, any extra you make on your deal is kind of null and void because of the money you've already lost. What this means, is that there's no possible situation where the Nylander camp is in the driver seat. Essentially, you lose money until you either sign the deal the Leafs want you to sign, or they decide to move on and trade you.
For the Leafs, I don't believe the latter option is the way to go. Sure, If someone comes to you with a deal for a generational defenceman along the lines of a Colton Parayko, or something ridiculous and imaginary like P.K Subban for Nylander plus, then for sure you look into that. But until that moment comes, what do you have to gain from gaining a league average, to above average defenceman, or another goal scorer to replace Nylander? You already have a d core full of those guys.
Unless you are a head in the clouds Leafs fan (guilty), or an odds maker in Vegas, then you don't seriously believe this is the Toronto Maple Leafs year to win the cup; and rightfully so. There are a whole lot of teams in this league that look like absolute wagons from top to bottom. So much so, that teams like Pittsburgh and Winnipeg are struggling to win games early on in the season. So maybe trying to go at these teams this year, with two 20 something year old potential superstars and John Tavares, isn't really the move to make.
Fast forward one season. You now have John Tavares with one year of Toronto under his belt. Marner and Matthews (regardless of how much you're paying them) are now 22 and hitting their prime. Johnsson, Kapanen, Dermott, Leivo, and Zaitsev are now one season more improved, and hitting their peak. Jake Gardiner isn't returning, and depending on what side of the fence you're on, your'e either celebrating in the streets, or crying about how great he was on the offensive side of the game. The team looks a little different, but also significantly improved.
Now picture this. William Nylander spends a year in the KHL, absolutely dominating another professional league. You bring him back, probably on a 6x7 deal, and you spot him into this juggernaut of a team instead of planning your defence around stopping the same kid. Pittsburgh is older, Washington is older, Winnipeg has to blow it up, Tampa Bay is flirting with the cap, and you have a team just hitting their prime, ready to set the city on fire. That right there... seems like a dream come true for Toronto Maple Leafs.
I don't think it's a far stretch to become a reality for Leafs nation. Say December 2nd comes around, Nylander signs with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL, and he spends the year dreading playing against guys that just can't hack it with him, for much less money. Any reasonable human being will be ready and willing to come back to a historic market like Toronto, for whatever price necessary. Now, you have Nylander closer to the deal you want, the cap more than likely goes up, and you safely slot Matthews and Marner in underneath it.
No, you didn't bring in this "stud" defenceman everyone keeps on talking about but can't seem to find. But you do have guys like Timothy Lilijegren, Rasmus Sandin, and Sean Durzi on the way up. You'll also have a little bit of cap room in order to sign a decent 2-3 guy to slot in behind budding Norris Trophy candidate Morgan Rielly. So in all fairness, the future of the defence doesn't look as bleak as Toronto fans and media are making it out to be.
Yes, a lot has to go perfectly in order for all of this to go down. But doesn't the thought of this juggernaut next year sound much better than having to deal with that absolute missile of a shot from Nylander for the rest of his career? So go ahead, complain about needing a d-man instead of Nylander. Yell and scream about how you think Dubas should just pay him what he wants. But don't count out the serious likelihood of getting better from just waiting this one out.