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William Nylander, via NBC Sports

Hockey

What’s the Deal with William Nylander?

The Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Kyle Dubas had some serious pressure to re-sign their “big three”: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.

Then they gave 11 million to John Tavares.

This isn’t to say that was a mistake— a player like Tavares comes asking, any GM would (and should) pay the price.

There are six forwards on the roster signed for longer than 1 year, per CapFriendly. That’s a lot of new contracts to write up. Nylander is already in holdout mode. Matthews is going to be one of, if not the most, expensive cap hits in NHL history. They have around $30 million to make it work, AM34 could be near half alone.

Nylander, the 8th overall pick in 2014, is a right handed shot and can play center. He’s given the Leafs two consecutive 61 point seasons at 20 and 21 years old. If he plays a third line center role, a key need in Philadelphia, everything changes. Currently playing third line center is Jordan Weal.

If he comes in and earns the ice time, put him anywhere in the top six. It wouldn’t hurt.

Weal’s been decent this year, and has some underrated puck skills, if you’ve ever seen his quick pivots in the offensive zone. Even so, the Flyers should jump at the opportunity to move him to the wing for Nylander to play down the middle.

Elliotte Friedman, an NHL Network insider, says the Leafs still want to get a deal done. That being said, talks have stalled, and aren’t really getting anywhere. If Nylander isn’t signed by December 1st, he isn’t eligible to play this season.

Friedman lists Carolina at the top of his destination chart. They’ve got a lot of young defensemen that Toronto has to be aching for.

Some other teams Dubas visited that makes sense for a Nylander deal: Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Before we get too excited, this tweet is over a week old, and he could even be there for the Avalanche rather than cross the country. Most hockey fans, given the means, would do the same. However, it’s a little bit suspicious.

Los Angeles made a statement signing in Ilya Kovalchuk, saying “its time for another run”— and then won two of their first ten. They could get trigger happy to try to save the season, and a bidding war could be costly.

A potential trade to Philadelphia would obviously come with a fresh contract for Nylander as soon as the plane lands. They have a surplus of assets tailor made for a move like this one. He would solidify potentially one of the most dangerous offenses “on paper” in the NHL.

Nothing is free, though. Purely speculating: Phil Myers would have to be involved. Undoubtedly, there are teams knocking at the door of Kyle Dubas with deals, driving up the price. On the other hand, the Leafs lose leverage the closer they get to December 1st. Myers, and likely a first round pick, is a decent starting point for a young forward with an electric tendency.

If not Myers, then Robert Hagg for a starting piece. Myers has more upside, at the time of this writing. Sanheim, before the season, would have been a good trade chip. He’s turned into a legit defensemen now, someone Hextall would be reluctant to trade.

Kyle Dubas is not in an enviable situation in Toronto. He’s been thrust into a whirlwind of expectations and media. The hockey world’s focus, right now, is the Matthews/Marner/Nylander situation. It could be nothing, and they could all sign soon. It’s time to keep a close eye on this as the December 1st RFA deadline nears.

The Flyers GM was openly disappointed he couldn’t make a deal over the summer. Is this his chance?

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