William Nylander spoke to the media after an optional skate in Toronto today, and one of the first questions asked was about a potential contract extension. Nylander is heading into the final year of his entry-level contract, and proved last season that he’s ready to step into a starring role on the young Maple Leafs squad. The 21-year old was non-committal when talking about whether he’d thought about his next contract yet.
I’m just focused on the season right now. Nothing big, just want to be ready and be prepared for when the season starts.
I don’t know, [my agents and the Maple Leafs] have talked a little bit, but we’ll see what happens. I just want to focus on the season right now.
Nylander exploded onto the scene in 2015-16 with 13 points in 22 games, before outdoing himself as a (technical) rookie with 61 points last season. That 0.72 points-per-game rate puts him right up among some of the best players in the NHL already, and there is still plenty of room to grow. We featured him in our look at who could earn in-season contract extensions this year, and it’s good news that the two sides have at least begun to talk about a potential deal.
This year, if Nylander plays with Auston Matthews once again there could be room for even more offensive production and with it an even higher price tag. Looking forward for the Maple Leafs, the team will need to figure out how to fit their trio of top forwards—Nylander, Matthews and Mitch Marner—into a cap structure that allows them to still compete. Just recently we learned that pending free agent forward James van Riemsdyk is looking for something around $6MM per season, something that the Maple Leafs might just not be able to afford.