As Nikolaj Ehlers and Jack Eichel sign their respective long-term extensions, many fans in Toronto looked at the contracts as parallels for their own young stars. While Eichel compares favorably to Auston Matthews, Ehlers is almost a direct comparison for William Nylander. The pair were selected back to back in the 2014 draft, and have similarities in both style and production.
The Jets inked Ehlers to a seven-year extension today worth $42MM, but the Toronto forward won’t be negotiating during the season according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. Like many other athletes, he instead wants to focus on his team’s success and his own game rather than where his future contract status lies.
In reality, it’s probably a good move for the Nylander camp. Entering the final year of his entry-level contract, Nylander is poised to spend the entire season riding shotgun with Matthews and racking up points. The two combined for 130 last season and could easily surpass those totals, especially given the innate chemistry they’ve shown once again in the preseason. If Nylander sets a new mark for points this season he could easily demand more than Ehlers’ $6MM per season. If not, he likely won’t be asking for much less.
It’s easy to bet on yourself when you’re as talented as Nylander, but the Maple Leafs likely want to know where Matthews’ salary falls before getting into any real negotiations anyway. As the Edmonton Oilers are finding out, when you have several superstars ready to get paid it is a tough job to fit them all into a salary structure and leave yourself any room. The Maple Leafs also have Mitch Marner to worry about, and eventually will have to decide if Jake Gardiner is worth a long-term extension. Waiting on Nylander may just be out of necessity.