NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs’ Nylander, Matthews, Marner All Connected

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.

William Nylander - Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs’ William Nylander speaks to reporters in Toronto on Friday, April 27, 2018. The next time the Maple Leafs play a game, they???ll know the status of winger William Nylander. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

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.

Related: NHL Rumors: Flyers Latest, Skinner’s Trade Value, Nylander, More

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.

Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner
Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

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.

LeBrun wrote:

“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.”

Related: Maple Leafs Winger Depth is a Good Problem

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.

Auston Matthews - Maple Leafs
DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 11: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his second period goal during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on October 11, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

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.