With Auston Matthews and William Nylander due new deals in Toronto, something’s gotta give next offseason. The Maple Leafs are pushing hard for a Stanley Cup and it’s not only the aforementioned two due dollars. Mitch Marner’s deal expires a season after, putting Toronto in a spot to win as fast as it can. But as mentioned in the clip with NHL Network, there’s only so much “money to go around”–which means someone is likely going.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 22, 2023
William Nylander is the bet, according to the the NHL Network’s Mike Rupp. He even believes he’ll be moved during the season–which definitely raises an eyebrow given that the Leafs would need his production to go further in the playoffs.
“All of a sudden this team, if you can make a monster move like that, I think Nylander is clearly the guy,” Rupp said. “He’s going to be the guy and I think he could thrive with that.”
Though he’s talking about Anaheim, couldn’t Chicago apply, too?
Blackhawks Have the Prospects and Picks To Pull it Off
Let’s say for a moment that the Leafs are willing to make a trade and pull it off during the season. Again, it seems like they’d want someone who could step in and contribute in the playoffs. Nylander had 87 points, 40 being goals. If his production mirrors that or exceeds it, I cannot see a single scenario where a straight up trade to Anaheim even makes sense midseason. The Maple Leafs want the Stanley Cup–dealing Nylander before the season even ends. Any deal would have to involve a third team, likely bringing talent their way and picks or prospects elsewhere to balance things out.
A more likely scenario — whether it results in a parade or not, is where the Leafs concede a trade before July 1 and listen to bids from other teams seeking exclusive negotiating rights.
This is where the Blackhawks can compete with anyone. They have the prospect depth to offer Toronto some up and coming players to fill in some gaps at a more affordable price. They have extra draft picks they could pitch as well. Cap space? Not an issue.
What about the timeline? Nylander flanking Connor Bedard means production the Blackhawks haven’t seen since the days of Patrick Kane in his prime. If Oliver Moore, and Frank Nazar have seasons which earn them entry-level deals, the rebuild is suddenly moving faster. Lukas Reichel having a full season in Chicago that produces as well? Suddenly there’s a very capable top six in Chicago–with a lot of cap space to boot.
The Maple Leafs goal is a Stanley Cup. Unless they absolutely go off the rails, an in-season deal makes little sense for a team in a Cup-or-Bust mentality.
With the financial constraints a serious issue on the horizon, Toronto will be forced to do something. Maybe they find a way to re-sign him. Perhaps they go the route of dealing Nylander.
Rupp’s analysis is intriguing. The Blackhawks could be suitors if it all breaks the right way.
But what Toronto decides remains to be seen.