Fantasy Acquisition #2 – William Nylander
Thanks to the touchy feelies that now-ex-GM Kyle Dubas felt when John Tavares wanted to sign with the Leafs, and the resulting huge contract that he was signed to ($11 million per), the Leafs are now the NHL team that is truly up poop creek without a paddle. New GM Brad Treliving is now left with a huge cap mess to clean up.
The contracts of the big four – a term I use to not only describe the four players in a hockey sense but also in dollar values – are all coming due within the next two seasons.
At the time of this writing, the Leafs are now the team with the worst cap hell of any other NHL team. They are slated to spend $95 million on player salaries next season, which is tops in the league. Now granted, the careers of Jake Muzzin and Matt Murray are now over, which means both player’s contracts – which are up after next season – give them $10.3 million in LTIR cap space, but that still leaves them just over $2 million over the cap. Only Tampa Bay is close to that kind of trouble – and they’ve already been unable to re-sign Alex Killorn so they’ve made roster sacrifices already – not to mention they have Brent Seabrook’s LTIR contract insulating them against most of their cap overage, and I’m pretty sure barring anymore roster moves they’ll just take the $73,333 cap space hit two seasons from now.
But the Leafs are not so fortunate cap-wise. They’re now at the point where – because of the death knell the Tavares contract spelled for them when they signed him – the piper now has to be paid. One way or another, they have to find cap space to make up the overage for this upcoming season – either by acquiring more LTIR cap space or by jettisoning a roster player.
This means that for the Leafs to have any cap sustainability they’re going to make major surgery to their roster. Being able to replace Matt Murray with internal option Joseph Woll certainly helps, but more is needed.
To remain sustainable the Leafs are going to have to jettison one of their big four – and the contracts of Matthews, Tavares, and Marner are all too big for a team to take on. That leaves only William Nylander to get rid of.
But Could He End Up On The Edmonton Oilers? No
Like the Jets and Scheifele, Nylander is still making a pretty penny right now, almost $7 million a season to be exact. It’s worth noting this is not an overpayment for the player, though, as outside of an off-season he had back in 2018-19, he has been a 20+ goal scorer five of the last seasons, a 30+ goal scorer twice during the same period, and like Scheifele set a new career high with 40-47-87 in a full 82 games last season, not to mention the additional offence for the Leafs in the playoffs and the fact he finished with a sparkling +10 on the season.
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Nylander would fit fantastically at RW for the Edmonton Oilers from a hockey perspective but again we’re facing the same cap complications as we would be with Scheifele, except even more so. Nylander will likely command $9 million a year on his next contract – minimum – and there’s no way the Oilers could fit that into the roster without major changes, not to mention again (I really can never emphasize this enough) it would severely complicate the next contracts for Mcdavid and Draisaitl, amongst some of the others. The last thing the Oilers need is a complication on the cap right now. The Oilers don’t need to give up the futures required to trade for Nylander nor do they have the cap space needed to sign his next contract.
Although it would be comical to see another Leaf suit up for the Oilers after Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Zach Hyman, and Jack Campbell already have over the last few seasons, this is one that I think the Oilers just won’t be able to pull off, despite the fact it would be really nice and make the top six potent.