The Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander’s camp have been pitted against eachother for the better part of the last five months. But when it came down to the wire, both sides found room to make a deal on Saturday.
In dramatic fashion the Leafs announced that they had inked Nylander to a six-year extension worth $41 million at exactly 5 p.m. Eastern-Standard time. The deal will carry a $6.9 million cap hit following this season. Because he missed the first two months of the season, the hit for this season will be $10.2 million, making him the second-highest cap hit on the club, trailing only John Tavares.
Toronto GM, Kyle Dubas told reporters that he was prepared to let the winger sit out the rest of the season if the two sides could not agree on a contract prior to Saturday’s deadline.
“Anytime you get into something like this, especially when you come into the last day, you think it might be reality,” Dubas said.
Now signed, Nylander joins a Maple Leafs squad that has hardly noticed his 26-game absence. They’re one point out of first place in the NHL and have gotten superb contributions from Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and Tavares, the club’s big signing from the offseason.
The signing of Nylander might pose some challenges in the near future for both Matthews and Marner, who are among a handful of Leafs on the current roster that are due for contract extensions. But in the here and now, the Buds are boasting one of the deepest squads in the league.
Nylander was rumored to be a potential trade chip during parts of the stalemate, especially as the club looks to upgrade its defense.
For now, they’ll have to find another way to do that. Or maybe they’ll just take their superior depth up front and run with it.