TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that forward William Nylander and the Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to a six-year contract worth an average annual value of $6.9 million right before the 5:00 deadline for him to sign a contract. He would not have been eligible to play in the NHL this season if he had not signed by the 5 PM deadline.
6 x $6.9M for Nylander
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 1, 2018
Nylander, 22, posted back-to-back 61 point season and recorded 20+ goals for the Maple Leafs in each of the past two seasons. He played in his native country of Sweden to begin the season. Nylander has 48 goals and 135 points in 185 career NHL games.
Nylander and his representatives were $300,000 apart in contract negotiations earlier today.
Center Auston Matthews, who returned to the team’s lineup after missing 14 games with a left shoulder injury in a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, and head coach Mike Babcock had expressed confidence over the past week that Nylander would be back in Toronto this week but did not see it happen.
The Maple Leafs, who now have $5.26 million left in cap space after the Nylander signing, wanted to find a way to sign him, Matthews, and forward Mitch Marner after signing center John Tavares to a seven-year contract worth an average annual value of $11 million on July 1. GM Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet this past summer that they could and would sign all three. Matthews, who has posted 12 goals and 19 points in 12 games this season, and Marner, who leads the Maple Leafs with 30 assists and 36 points, can each become restricted free agents on July 1.
Toronto has been doing fine without Nylander so far this season as they currently rank third in the Atlantic Division with 36 points, one behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres for first in the division. The team also ranks third in goals-per-game average at 3.58 behind the Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, who are tied for first (3.73).
While the team is still one of the biggest threats in the East with the Lightning, Sabres, and Washington Capitals, getting Nylander back in the fold puts them in contention to do some serious damage.
By Harrison Brown