Is Nylander the odd man out?

With Brad Treliving as General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the future of the Core 4 is now up for debate, but will William Nylander be part of it?

The new GM has wasted no time in telling the media that he’ll be looking at all aspects of the team and especially the so-called ‘Core 4’.

Auston Matthews was a big part of his address, making a specific reference to the forward’s contract and a possible extension.

Matthews would be eligible to sign an extension from July 1st with an activated No Move Clause in his contract.

But what about Nylander?

2J60X8X Vancouver, Canada, April 26, 2022. Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates after scoring his 59th and 60th goal of the season with teammate William Nylander (88) after their NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Toronto on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Nylander could extend as well but he wasn’t mentioned as part of Treliving’s comments about Matthews.

The Swedish forward would also be eligible to sign a five-year extension with the Maple Leafs from July 1st which also activates his Modified No Trade Clause for the 2023 – 2024 season.

Nylander is currently on a six-year contract he signed with the Leafs as a renewal back on December 1st 2018. His annual average salary cap hit sits at $6.9M.

Strained relationship?

2NJ5MDJ Toronto Maple Leafs right winger William Nylander (88) skates up ice during an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Dallas. (Matt Patterson via AP)

The Maple Leafs Insider reckons it’s something to do with some bitterness between Treliving and Nylander’s agent Lewis Gross.

While the new GM did make reference to his good relationship with Matthews’ agent Judd Muldaver in discussing Matthews’ future and possible extension, there was no such mention of Nylander and Gross.

The Insider suggests that it could be the trouble that Treliving had with Gross when dealing with the Left Winger Johnny Gaudreau in the last offseason.

Gaudreau had shown interest to stay with Calgary Flames in the next season but then grabbed skates and signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 2022/23.

Sticking it to Gross?

2HRM1PE Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving announces the resignation of head coach Bill Peters at a press conference in Calgary on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

Maple Leafs Insider claims that the bitter taste left by the Gaudreau – Gross situation has potentially soured a future for Nylander.

Treliving will likely want to ship him out before July 1st and the activation of his M – NTC, they speculate.

Cap Space

Aside from any animosity that there may be towards Nylander because of his management, shedding Nylander will also conveniently free up cap space for the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs currently have just over $9.1M in cap space available to them. With their current roster, their projected salary cap for 2023/24 will be just over $74.3M, under the $83.5M projected for all 32 teams in the NHL franchise.

The Vancouver Canucks are the only team currently over the projected cap ceiling by over $688K.

Read more about that here: Can Canucks find cap space?

What if he does extend?

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) celebrates his goal with teammates Mitchell Marner (16) and John Tavares (91) during second period NHL hockey action against the Winnipeg Jets, in Toronto, Thursday, March 31, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Let’s say Nylander does extend from July 1st and Treliving wants him to stay, what would his average annual salary be?

If he were seeking parity with his teammates in the ‘Core 4’, he’d be aiming for anywhere between $10M and $10.5M.

Auston Matthews ($11.6M per season), Mitch Marner ($10.9M per season) and John Tavares ($11M per season) all command salaries of over $3M more than the Swede.

With the current projected salary cap for next season, that’s going to be difficult to cope with.

Will the Cap Space win? Will the Core 4 be broken?

Maybe Treliving will trade Nylander out to save cap space. Whether it’s to do with his agent, is purely a speculation.

Then again, breaking the Core 4 even further may also be the retooling the Maple Leafs need to start a fresh next season.

Posted on: 05 Jun 2023