December 11, 2023

Maple Leafs Willing to Wait on Nylander Deal and “Play This Out”


The countdown to the 2023-24 NHL season has begun, and for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s marked by the urgent quest to secure an extension for their dynamic forward, William Nylander. With contract negotiations underway, General Manager Brad Treliving is facing the challenge of ensuring a seamless transition into the season while addressing Nylander’s somewhat sticky contractual situation.

With a dark cloud potentially set to hang over the team this season thanks to an unsettled contract extension, Treliving doesn’t seem terribly concerned. The GM has admitted that his priority is to get a deal done before the season starts, but as Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports, the Leafs are willing to let this thing play out.

The Unsettled Nylander Contract Scenario

The uncertainty surrounding Nylander’s contract extension has cast a shadow of ambiguity over the Maple Leafs’ preseason preparations. Nylander, a crucial piece of the Maple Leafs’ offensive puzzle, finds himself in the final year of his existing contract, potentially inching closer to unrestricted free agency—a situation that both the player and the organization are eager to resolve.

William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Treliving has acknowledged the importance of addressing Nylander’s contract situation promptly. As he did by getting a deal done early with Auston Matthews, Treliving recognizes the need to avoid any lingering uncertainties that might disrupt the team’s cohesion and focus as they set their sights on capturing the elusive Stanley Cup. While the urgency is apparent, Treliving’s approach suggests he’s taking a more measured and calculated approach.

Treliving’s Strategy: A Blend of Urgency and Patience

Treliving’s tenure as the Maple Leafs’ general manager has been marked by astute short-term and mid-term signings, most notably locking in Matthews for another four years. These moves have not only fortified the team but also positioned them favorably in a league with a fluctuating salary cap. However, at the top of Treliving’s current priority list is Nylander’s contract extension as he plays a pivotal role in the team’s success.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Defense: Better or Worse for 2023-24?

While the desire to expedite negotiations is apparent, Treliving emphasizes that contract talks are unique to each player and require time. Negotiating a long-term deal involves a complex interplay of factors, including player expectations, team objectives, and financial considerations. Nylander, as is his reputation, seems to be working on his own timeline. LeBrun points out that Treliving tried to install urgency in those talks back in June, but so far that extension has proved elusive.

Trust Is That Nylander Wants to Stay in Toronto

The Maple Leafs seem willing to let this unfold as it will because Nylander has conveyed his desire to continue his career with the organization. His commitment to the team aligns with the team’s goals and it is being said that both parties are working towards a common goal—securing a prosperous future together. It’s just taking longer than expected.

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LeBrun writes:

They haven’t hit a wall in contract talks, which is noteworthy. … Two things here: First, Treliving pointing out that they still have a year to get a deal done is meant to take some pressure off the situation. There was a sense at one point that if Nylander didn’t sign this summer he might get dealt. Now the Leafs sound like they’re willing to play this out.

source – ‘LeBrun: What’s the Maple Leafs’ level of urgency with William Nylander? Catching up with GM Brad Treliving’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 09/08/2023

As Nylander enters the final year of his contract, the looming question is when a resolution will be reached. While the upcoming trade deadline in March could theoretically be a factor, Treliving’s statements indicate a willingness to extend negotiations into the next summer if necessary. The emphasis on having a year to reach a deal suggests the Leafs are prepared to wait.

For the Maple Leafs, negotiations with Nylander will be about balancing the urgency to secure their star forward’s future with the need for a thorough and well-considered process, all while staying confident that by waiting, they aren’t risking Nylander walks before it’s too late to get anything decent in return via trade.

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