In today’s rumor rundown, a connection exists between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs as the deadline to sign William Nylander approaches. That said, the bigger news seems to be the connection being made between all three Maple Leafs star forwards. While the Nylander drama unfolds, Mitch Marner is taking notes and some NHL insiders are asking what Nylander’s deal (or lack thereof) does to the rest of the team long-term, including their star Auston Matthews?
Connection Between Leafs and Flyers?
Frank Seravalli of TSN tweeted the Philadelphia Flyers are believed to be among the teams that Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has spoken within the past few days. What the two sides have spoken about or who is the focus of the discussion is unclear, but it’s logical to assume William Nylander is somehow connected considering the deadline to sign him is tomorrow.
Seravalli specifically said that the two GM’s, Kyle Dubas and Paul Holmgren have talked. Meanwhile, Michael Augello tweeted the Maple Leafs have been scouting the Flyers this season and they were at the Flyers-Senators game on Wednesday.
Pierre LeBrun tweeted that the hope is still that the Maple Leafs’ will get him signed but the organization is circling “back to some teams suggesting they put their best foot forward on trade offers…” One thing to remember is, the Maple Leafs will not take back any contracts that could mess with their future salary cap situation. This whole situation with Nylander exists because Toronto is trying to be smart with their cap room and that will make a trade more complicated, especially if it includes a third team.
Reports are still out there that the two sides are about $300,000 apart on a deal and that potentially, each side has come as far as they’re willing to in negotiations.
Mitch Marner Watching Closely
While all of this unfolds with Nylander in Toronto, another Maple Leafs is watching closely. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted on Insider Trading that Mitch Marner’s agent Darren Ferris doesn’t want to negotiate Marner’s next contract until after the season.
Marner sympathizes with Nylander’s position in that, over time, the value of a forward will change in the NHL and that by signing long-term for current market value, someone of his skill set could be undervaluing himself down the road when salaries for forwards with his point production balloons. As a result, Marner might be looking at a shorter-term deal, hoping to hit a home run in free agency.
“But what I think is new is that our understanding is the Marner camp is looking at the idea of the merits of a four- or five-year deal when it’s time to negotiate as opposed to a maximum or longer term deal. And that is obviously quite interesting. It’s probably not what the Leafs want, that’s for sure. Especially, a four-year deal because that would walk Marner right into ufa (unrestricted free agency). How much would a four or five-year deal cost instead of a max deal? My sense is they think it’s somewhere between $9-10 million based on the season that he is having right now.”
A Matthews Offer Sheet?
Way off in the distance, there is a concern about what all of this means for Auston Matthews. Fox Sports’ Andy Strickland has shared speculation that Matthews could be a prime target for an offer sheet this off-season. Although offer sheets are rare, not often does a player of Matthews caliber potentially become available for one.
Strickland notes how important the contracts for players like Nylander and Marner are and asks what the Leafs will do if they overpay or have too many RFA’s with a defense that needs improvement. If another team were to offer Matthews $14 million per season, the Leafs can’t possibly match.
Strickland does admit that $14 million seems far-fetched but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. One of 30 teams might find him worth that kind of money.
Too often people see this Nylander negotiation as one that exists exclusively between the Leafs and Nylander. It’s so much bigger than that. The wrong move by the Maple Leafs could be disastrous for the organization moving forward.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”