While the Toronto Maple Leafs were busy extending their hot start with a win over the Washington Capitals—thanks to Auston Matthews’ tenth goal of the season—William Nylander was still waiting for his chance to play this season, continuing negotiations with the team over his next contract. On Hockey Night in Canada, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet relayed some new information about the star forward, reporting that the team is not shopping him despite the ongoing negotiations and have made a four-year offer worth “well under $20MM in total.”
Previously we’d heard very little about a possible bridge deal for Nylander, after both sides indicated that they’d rather get a long-term deal done. A four-year contract is somewhere in the middle of those two options, but would still leave him as a restricted free agent at its conclusion and under Maple Leafs control. Anything five years or longer would take Nylander to unrestricted free agency, and also force the cap hit higher and higher. That’s a concern for the team given the upcoming extensions needed for Matthews and Mitch Marner, along with a decision on pending-UFA Jake Gardiner.
Like any other restricted free agent, Nylander must sign a contract by December 1 or be forced to sit out the entire 2018-19 season. Though it would hurt the Maple Leafs on the ice, that scenario seems much more detrimental to Nylander who would be in almost the exact same situation next season without any production from this year. Already he’s losing out on potential goals and points that could be used in negotiations and arbitration, especially given his expected role on the top line with Matthews. For what it’s worth, Nylander hasn’t asked for a trade either, making these negotiations still on track to eventually get worked out between the two sides.