With the Toronto Maple Leafs going down to the final minutes to sign restricted free agent William Nylander, who signed a six-year, $45MM deal, there was quite a reaction from journalists around the league. Here are some thoughts on the signing.
- Jonas Siegel of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the Maple Leafs accomplished their goal of locking up Nylander to a long-term deal for a reasonable price of $6.97MM. That gives Toronto what they wanted, which is to lock up their core for the next five to seven years and Nylander is just another piece that the team has added to that long-term puzzle. The scribe writes that fans should remember that he is an elite player, despite struggling in the playoffs last year. Nylander is only 22 and should continue to develop into a consistent goal scorer.
- Siegel also reports that general manager Kyle Dubas said that it’s not likely that Nylander will debut on Tuesday against Buffalo, the team’s next game. The likely scenario is that Nylander will make his NHL debut on Thursday against Detroit. TSN’s Kristen Shilton writes that Nylander will have to undergo medical tests before being allowed to play and reports that Dubas suggested that even Thursday might be too early for Nylander’s season debut.
- Kevin Allen of USA Today reminds fans that while Nylander will eventually return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup, that doesn’t mean a trade isn’t possible. In fact, now that Nylander has a long-term deal, it should be even easier for Dubas to find a quality return if they opt to trade the 22-year-old. The fact that Toronto has proven that they don’t need Nylander to win, that could mean that Nylander might find a new home at the trade deadline or before the NHL draft. Allen suggests that Matthew Dumba would be the perfect fit in Toronto.
- The Athletic James Mirtle writes that the Maple Leafs will have to eventually make a roster move to get Nylander on the roster. While they may have a few days to make a decision, the scribe writes that Justin Holl, who has been a healthy scratch for 25 games, would be the obvious candidate to be waived. Other candidates would be Frederik Gauthier or defenseman Martin Marincin.
- Chip Alexander of the News & Observer says he never believed the Toronto Maple Leafs had any interest in trading Nylander. He believed that Dubas was just using a trade option as leverage against Nylander. Carolina was considered to be the most interested team in acquiring the 22-year-old and were rumored to be willing to move defensemen Justin Faulk or Brett Pesce as part of a major package.
- Sam Carchidi of Philly.com writes that while many players are happy for Nylander, Travis Konecny could be the happiest as the 21-year-old will be a restricted agent himself this offseason. Konecny has already tallied 42 career goals over the course of his career, while Nylander is a year older and only has six more goals in that time. With similar numbers, Konecny could easily equal that contract next summer.
- Ryan Pike of FlamesNation adds that another beneficiary in the Nylander signing could be Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk. The 20-year-old already has 49 career goals and will also hit restricted free agency next year. He also has better point production as he averages .741 points per game, compared to the .729 points per game by Nylander over his career.
- Michael Augello of HockeyBuzz writes that in spite of the $10.2MM cap hit the team will take this season, the team still has the option of placing Nathan Horton’s contract on long-term injury reserve, which should free up some money to add some rental players at the trade deadline this season.