The Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans figure to have a tense few months throughout the 2023-24 NHL calendar, as superstar Auston Matthews will be eligible for an extension, and should he choose not to pursue one in Toronto, could head to the UFA market. But, even if Matthews were to re-sign, the UFA worry wouldn’t stop there, as William Nylander is also set to hit the market in the summer of 2024. It doesn’t feel like too long ago when Nylander held out as an RFA, ultimately signing a six-year, $45MM deal at the last minute on December 1st of 2018, but that long-term deal is now more than halfway complete.
Recently, The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel had a chance to sit down with Nylander to discuss his future. When asked about the possibility of an extension with the Maple Leafs or testing the free agent market, Nylander said it wasn’t something he had really thought much of, but added that it would be “unreal to stay,” especially if the team could go on a deep playoff run before then. Looking deeper into an extension, Siegel opines that if Nylander can build upon his 2021-22, where he had 80 points in 81 games, and help Toronto make a deep playoff run, not only does an extension with the Maple Leafs become more likely, but it could push his number to at least $9MM per season. On the other hand, if Toronto is still unable to take the next step in the playoffs, they could opt to move on from Nylander. Of course, there is still plenty of time for Nylander to establish who he is as a talent and two more postseasons before his contract formally expires but, as one of five members of a group of Maple Leafs superstars who may figure to earn a raise from his $6.96MM cap hit, the Maple Leafs could be poised to make an interesting decision either way.
- Sticking with the Maple Leafs, the team lost two of its defenseman in tonight’s preseason contest against the Montreal Canadiens before the game was even half over. Veteran Jordie Benn, who signed with Toronto this offseason, suffered an undisclosed injury early on in the first period and left the game. The Maple Leafs have since announced that he will not return to the game for precautionary reasons. Also injured was Carl Dahlstrom, who the team soon after announced would not return to the game for precautionary reasons. Losing the pair puts the Maple Leafs in a tough circumstance early on in a preseason game, left with just four defenseman. At one point, forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot were taking shifts on defense for Toronto.
- Aaron Portzline of The Athletic tweeted that, per Columbus Blue Jackets radio host Dylan Tyrer, forward Cole Sillinger skated today in a non-contact sweater after he suffered an upper-body injury on the first day of training camp. Today’s skate was Sillinger’s first since the injury, and no timetable for a more formal return has been disclosed.