If the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t find a deal that they like, the team is willing to allow restricted free agent holdout William Nylander to sit out the entire season, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston on Hockey Night in Canada.
“If there isn’t a trade that presents itself — and we spoke last week about the fact that they are gauging the market on William Nylander, and William Nylander’s demands don’t come to the range that they’re comfortable paying — they’re comfortable letting this player sit and I think that’s significant with the fact that it’s 13-plus days remaining and tensions only to get a little higher as we get closer to Dec. 1,” Johnston said.
For a team with the potential to win now while they have many players on entry-level deals, that may not be the best course of action. Nylander is a major free agent and the team could use Nylander or the potential returns from a trade, whose situation must be decided on by Dec. 1. With the emergence of Kasperi Kapanen, who also will be a restricted free agent next season, the team may not need Nylander’s offense, but with a struggling defense, the team could use a trade to bring in much needed defensive help for a team attempting to challenge for a Stanley Cup now.
The last player to sit out an entire season due to a contract dispute was Michael Peca when he sat out the 2001-02 season while at a contract impasse with the Buffalo Sabres.
Of course, Toronto may be sending that message out to teams with the hope of increasing offers from other teams who hope to get Nylander at a reduced price as that Dec. 1 deadline nears. If teams believe that Toronto will let him sit, teams may be willing to hand over more assets to get a deal done before the deadline.