Manufactured Controversy: William Nylander’s Contract Extension

Before commencing into this very contentious topic, I want to lead with a disclaimer that I am huge William Nylander fan and I want him to be a Maple Leaf for an extended period of time but the arguments I will be making aren’t a knock-on William but they are to set a template for what I strongly believe will be his final contract framework once a deal is signed.

Let’s begin with some of the most recent RFA signings as I am confident in saying that both team and agent/player have brought these very contracts up in negotiations when discussing financials and term for William’s next contract.

I led with these contracts as reasonable counter to Darren Dreger’s reporting that an unnamed NHL Executive had told him that Nylander’s agent was asking for $8 million a season. In salary cap world where each dollar and each year of every contract needs to be squeezed for value from both a franchise/ player perspective this $8 million dollar “demand” if this was even made isn’t even commencing discussions in good faith.

If William or his agent indeed asked for this amount, I personally would have hung up the phone and let the player sit or commenced looking for a trading partner to move Nylander. But I don’t think this was the case, I am of the opinion that the framework for a fair salary is between the salaries mentioned above. When all is said and done, I believe Nylander’s salary is somewhere between $6-6.5 million a season.

Where I believe the negotiations are stuck isn’t on the salary but in the term/ length of the contract. I believe one side is pushing for a long-term deal and the other is pushing for a bridge deal. The bridge deal would be great for Nylander, He could bet on himself in the short term to have improve stats playing on a newly formed line with Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau which could reap him huge financial rewards should the cap go up in the future. And he wouldn’t be locked in long term for a below market value contract should he develop into one of the league’s top stars.

From the team’s perspective, I believe they are the ones offering longer term but at a lower yearly average salary of just above $6million. By lowering the average yearly salary, that would provide the team financial flexibility to sign Matthews, Marner and to a lesser extent Andreas Johnsson to new contracts allowing the Maple Leafs to keep their core together.

This situation isn’t a controversy as some would have you believe, these are normal negotiating practices and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nylander signed no later than this weekend to his new contract and at most he would have missed a day or two of camp.

Here is my prediction on the final contract, it will be a 6-year contract at around $6.3-$6.4 million which is both fair and would allow the Maple Leafs to keep their core together over the course of their Stanley Cup window which has opened wide with the free agent signing of John Tavares. One final prediction, this will be all behind us and we can all get excited again about what should be an exciting season for the boys in the blue and white!