A Bag of Pucks

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William Nylander

First, William Nylander continues to produce at a point per game. We shouldn’t expect this to stop, considering how much time hes spending on Auston Matthews’ wing. So the question is, when negotiations start this summer, how much does Nylander get on his extension?

I’ve been comparing Nylander to the L.A. Kings’ Kevin Fiala and I believe the comparison is valid. Since the 2019/20 season, this is how the two players stack up against each other:

Kevin Fiala: 224GP, 85G, 209pts
William Nylander: 228GP, 97G, 209pts

I swear I didn’t wait until their point totals were identical to write this article, they’ve just been producing at similar rates for years now.

Other than their production, they both factor into the powerplay much more than the penalty kill, neither are fighters or big hitters and neither block shots. They are, essentially, much the same player. While one could argue they’d rather have Nylander for his zone entries, or Fiala for his shiftiness, neither player’s agent could stand in front of a GM and argue that those things make their client worth a large amount of money more.

But that’s exactly what Lewis Gross, the agent for William Nylander, will do.

Kevin Fiala agreed to a contract that pays him an average of $7.875M over 7 years, for just over $55M total. In order to determine what to expect from Nylander we first have to agree that, due to the highest US income tax rate being lower than the lowest Canadian income tax rate, all averages for star players in Canada will automatically be higher. This alone could being Nylander’s average to, or above, $9M. If this seems like I’m exaggerating just log onto capfriendly.com (where I’m getting all of my information) and check out the caphits for some of the star players around the league, such as Nikita Kucherov and Kirill Kaprizov, and compare them to that of the Leafs stars. This isn’t me saying that the Leafs stars haven’t lived up to their contracts, but it is me saying that, if those players were on a team in Florida of California, they would be making at least 1M less per year than they are in Toronto.

Next, we’ll couple the fact that Nylander sat out until the last possible hour the last time they negotiated a contract, with the fact that at that time he was a restricted free agent, compared to now, where he’ll be an unrestricted free agent (Fiala was RFA when he signed his deal, by the way). This essentially gives Nylander all the power and raises his average by at least another half a million per year.

Lastly, we have to acknowledge that Nylander likely feels that he took a hometown discount on his last deal and will want to get whats due to him on this contract. While I believe that to be a ridiculous way to think, it is, historically, something that is taken into account by players and coaches. Lets add another half a million average, again, at least.

At the end of the day I’ve been predicting a 9.5-10M average on any long term deal, but am also fully embracing myself for a 10.5-11M caphit for a player that isn’t worth anything near that amount.

Deadline Additions

There are a lot of names floating around the twittersphere regarding who the Leafs should add to the group. One that is extremely consistent is the former Toronto Maple Leafs 5th overall selection, Luke Schenn. The return of Schenn to help the team to a deep playoff run would be a nice story. However, they’re not here for a story, they’re here to win the Cup and I think they have the cap space and assets to go for something bigger.

The obviously player to ask for right now is Jakob Chychrun. He’s playing the right side in Arizona at the moment, is equally good on his natural left side, can play 22+ minutes a night and makes just 4.6M for another two years after this one. He’d be the perfect replacement for Jake Muzzin, but he’d also be expensive to acquire. For my money, he’s a “swing for the fences” addition and, with Kyle Dubas needing to make noise in the playoffs or else, it could be something that they attempt to do.

If they opt for a lower cost acquisition, it could be Vladislav Gavrikov, out of Columbus. He’s playing a lot of minutes on a bad team, but doing it fairly well. In a smaller role he is more effective and he fits the defensive defender role that Dubas tends to add come deadline day.

My dream trade involves them making the Columbus deal bigger and including Boone Jenner, but that’s likely a pipe dream. The Columbus captain plays a heavy game, but not the kind that would get the Leafs in trouble (think Zach Hyman with a little more and harder checking), can contribute on the scoresheet (63pts over his past 84GP), can line up at centre of left wing and carries a caphit of just 3.75M for three more seasons after this one. He also holds a modified no-trade clause, with an 8 team no trade list. He could be the perfect LWer for Nylander and Tavares, or an excellent scoring line centre that is good on both sides of the puck, which would potentially give the Leafs three very dangerous offensive lines.

The Depth

We’ve been spoiled with solid play from some new and/or inexperienced Leafs this year. Pontus Holmberg has been solid, Denis Malgin has been better than expected (he’s being vastly overrated in some circles though), Nicholas Robertson, who was injured last night and will miss significant time, was starting to look like he could figure out how to be effective at the NHL level. On the backend I’ve been impressed with Connor Timmins and Mac Hollowell, but I feel that Mete has left much to be desired. The real story there is how good Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin have been together. They’ve taken on a much larger role since Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and TJ Brodie (returned last night) went down with injury and they have looked good doing it. While some are suggesting that the positive results from the blueliners is all the more reason to not add much at the deadline, I’m of the opposite frame of mind. If you know you have Morgan Rielly, TJ Brodie, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Mark Giordano as players that could play in your top 4, then why not add another? If you roll into the playoffs with six top-4 defenders you’re starting to look like a contender.

This also makes my dream trade of Gavrikov and Jenner even more desireable, as they would add depth at both positions, while they wouldn’t lose any of what makes them a special team right now.