William Nylander. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs and restricted free agent William Nylander are still not anywhere near coming to terms on a deal that would allow the 22-year-old center to rejoin the team. 

For a franchise that is on the verge of being financially strapped after spending big money to acquire John Tavares while Auston Matthews will soon require an even richer deal, the Maple Leafs are attempting to bring Nylander back on a budget; something in the neighborhood of $6 million per season. 

The problem is Nylander and his representation haven't budged from the $8 million per year mark, per Sportsnet's Chris Johnston

Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has remained adamant that the team is not going to trade Nylander. However, the clock is ticking and the more time passes, the more likely a trade comes to fruition. 


Toronto has until Dec. 1 to sign Nylander to a new deal. If they're unable to do so, he becomes ineligible for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, only for him to become an unrestricted free agent on Jul. 1, 2019. 

Then it's open season for the league, who will undoubtedly be foaming at the mouth to get their hands on a young talent that has put up over 60 points in each of the last two years. 

That means the Maple Leafs might feel more inclined to deal Nylander in order to at least get something in return for him. There's still time, but if things remain unresolved when the calendar flips to November, pressure might start to build. 

TSN's Darren Dreger reported last week that teams are already calling Dubas and the Leafs to talk about a possible deal for Nylander and it likely won't stop as the weeks pass. 

Should the New York Islanders pursue William Nylander?

At face value, it seems like a no-brainer for the Islanders to inquire about possibly putting together a deal for Nylander. 

After Tavares jumped ship and signed with his hometown Maple Leafs, the Islanders offensive depth at center isn't exactly burgeoning behind Mathew Barzal. 

In a pseudo-rebuild under Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz, the Islanders have set a worrisome amount of reliance on the shoulders of Brock Nelson, currently centering the second line. 

Now in his sixth professional season, Nelson hasn't suggested that he's better than a 40-point kind of player. Sure, he can put up 20-to-25 goals on the season, but his playmaking skills leave plenty left to be desired as his career high in assists is just 25 and points in 45. 

Nylander has already proven that he would be a much better upgrade compared to Nelson as he's averaged 21 goals and 40 assists over the past two years. That kind of talent on a line with 40-goal scorer and new captain Anders Lee along with Jordan Eberle suddenly makes the Islanders' top two lines look pretty threatening. 

The price for Nylander though would likely be a steep one, which would likely deter Islanders management (and their fans, for that matter) from acting on the youngster's availability. 

Should the Islanders submit an offer sheet for the restricted free agent, they'd have to give Toronto a first, second and third-round pick. The problem is, the Calgary Flames currently own the Islanders second-round pick in 2019 from the Travis Hamonic deal. If they fail to make the playoffs, they keep that pick. If they do, the second-rounder is transferred to 2020. The Edmonton Oilers also own the Islanders' third-round pick in 2019 from the Brandon Davidson deal, meaning the only way the Islanders could really get Nylander if they pull off a trade.

Toronto doesn't need any more offense as they've scored 20 goals through their first four games. But their defense has been suspect, allowing 17 goals throughout the early portions of this season. For a talent like Nylander, the Maple Leafs would ask for a high-end defensive talent, whether it's an established veteran like Nick Leddy or a young prospect like Devon Toews. 

Either way, the Islanders don't have much depth on the blue line to play around with after having the NHL's worst defense last year. 




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