A lot. In theory I could end the post there, but what fun would that be?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have until December 1 to sign restricted free agent William Nylander, or else he can’t play for anyone for the remainder of the season. That’s a little over two weeks away, and it appears that the Leafs and Nylander have not made any progress. The Leafs prefer a multi-year deal at $6 million per, while the Nylander camp wants $8.5 million. That’s a pretty significant gap.
There aren’t many options for Kyle Dubas with their 22 year old stud winger. They can either hold firm and risk losing him for the year. They can cave to his ask and have a potential cap issue down the line. Or they can trade him. The trade rumors have swirled, and now it’s just Dubas doing what he must. It’s worth noting that waiting for an offer sheet is possible, but offer sheets aren’t common.
Before we can get into what a realistic offer for Nylander is, we need to look at the player himself. Nylander has back-to-back 20-goal, 60-point seasons (22-39-61 and 20-41-61) while playing on Toronto’s top line. Sixty point wingers under 23 years of age don’t grow on trees.
The biggest question about Nylander is whether he is a product of Auston Matthews, or if he can drive offense without him. That question is incredibly difficult to answer. If I’m reading the below chart right, Nylander had 1,136 total minutes last season. Of those minutes, he was with either Matthews, Zach Hyman, or both. there are no significant minutes of Nylander without one of them
The thing with Nylander is that the Leafs are a dominant team with him on the ice. Even if we can’t find much data of his performance without Matthews, the Leafs dominate shots, scoring chances, and goals when he’s on the ice. He simply drives offense.
Nylander’s stats have always been at the elite level. There are some obvious holes to the above chart of Nylander’s production (not all games were tracked), but regardless we see elite production. There is no beating around the bush here, acquiring Nylander would be acquiring a top-ten winger in the game today. And he’s only 22 years old.
Since we now know what Nylander is, let’s look at what a trade would cost the Rangers. The Leafs have $14 million in cap space right now, which is crazy. It certainly makes things easier.
The Leafs need a defenseman today to help with their Stanley Cup aspirations. That means Brady Skjei is in the deal. It’s the cost of doing business. His $5.25 million deal probably doesn’t need any retention.
In terms of replacing Nylander, the Leafs would need someone who can probably get by on the top-six. Jimmy Vesey may entice them, but I’m guessing someone like Vlad Namestnikov, a more skilled winger who has shown he can put up strong numbers with Steven Stamkos, is someone that the Leafs would want. I’d imagine the Rangers would need to retain a little bit on Namestnikov’s $4 million, if only to facilitate a deal with next season’s new deal for Matthews in mind. It would only be for another season anyway.
New York’s first rounder this season is out of the question, so my guess is the Rangers would have to include one of their better prospects. I’m going to assume Vitali Kravtsov and K’Andre Miller are off the table (along with Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson). In this scenario, it’s probably a “pick one” of Nils Lundkvist, Ryan Lindgren, Ty Ronning, or Tim Gettinger. I”m going out on a limb and saying Libor Hajek is off the table as well. The Rangers value him highly.
With that quality of prospect, I’d assume –since the Blueshirts’ 1st rounder is off the table– that the conditional 1st from Tampa would be included. Let’s also assume that there is a provision that if Tampa does not win the Cup (which turns that 1st rounder into a 2nd rounder), Toronto would have the option of swapping Tampa’s now 2nd rounder for NYR’s. So we have Skjei, Namestnikov, one of the better prospects, and either a low 1st or a high 2nd for Nylander.
That’s an awful lot from the rebuilding Rangers’ perspective. But if you’re a Leafs fan, it seems light, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing though: Toronto is not going to get fair value for someone like Nylander. He is always going to be the best player in any deal made. Compounding this issue is Dubas has little leverage in this situation, and teams know it. I’d imagine a lot of Ranger fans would not want to make this deal, but can you really pass up on Nylander?"What does a realistic trade offer for William Nylander look like?",