Toronto Maple Leafs: William Nylander in a no-win situation

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 20: William Nylander
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 20: William Nylander /

William Nylander is now at a point with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he is unlikely to win, no matter how negotiations play out.

We can all agree we’re now at a point where negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander have gone on way longer than anyone anticipated. He should have been signed by now, and contributing to the Buds’ exciting start to the 2018-19 season.

Unfortunately for Nylander, as the matter drags on, it is only his side who are receiving any criticism for the standoff. And with every passing day, he backs himself more into a corner.

For a start, the Leafs are doing just fine without the 22-year-old. Entering Saturday’s slate of games, they are tied at the top of the NHL standings with 12 points.

In addition, Toronto leads the league with 33 goals. With every passing game — fair or not — Nylander’ importance to the team is diminishing.

More from Toronto Maple Leafs

If and when the winger returns to the team, if they see a drop in production, he will be blamed for compromising the team chemistry. If, however, the Leafs continue to win in such style, critics will suggest anyone can be productive playing on a line with Auston Matthews.

The second reason Nylander is backing himself into a corner, is the perception he is being unreasonable and difficult in his demands. He is the NHL’s only remaining unsigned restricted free agent.

There is a wide-held belief around the league that the Swedish international’s father is having too much of an influence on him. Michael Nylander had a reputation from his playing days of being awkward to negotiate contracts with.

This now also seems to be the case with Nylander’s son. And this is not reflecting well with people around the league.

Consider a recent report from the Toronto Star‘s Kevin McGran. Speaking to McGran on the condition of anonymity, a Western Conference executive said the younger Nylander is not worth what he thinks he is.

That worth is open to speculation. The majority of reports have indicated Nylander wants more than $8 million per season, while the Leafs are closer to $6 million per year.

Again, NHL executives are seemingly in agreement with the Leafs’ stance. Once more reported by McGrann, an anonymous Eastern Conference executive said:

"“The Leafs are right. There is no way any team in the NHL is going to pay Nylander $8 million.”"

That comment is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, no matter what Nylander thinks he is worth, you can’t get around the fact teams have salary caps to consider.

If the Calgary, Alberta native won’t budge, he puts the Leafs into a position where they just can’t justify agreeing a deal with him. It doesn’t help that this is an extremely talented roster, with lots of other valuable players coming up for contract negotiations at the conclusion of this season.

The second reason for interest in the Eastern Conference executive’s comments, is his claiming no team will pay $8 million. This alludes to the possibility of Nylander being traded.

Now it should be noted the Leafs have stated they have no intention of moving the youngster. Similarly, he has not demanded a trade at this stage.

Of course, this could all change as we edge ever closer to Dec. 1. As reported by Mike Johnston of Sportsnet, if Nylander does not sign an NHL contract by this date, he will be ineligible to play at all this season.

The point is, what happens if we reach a stage where a trade does become a feasible possibility? Nylander could really find himself in a tough sport.

The 2014 eighth overall draft pick theoretically still not get his $8 million per season, regardless of where he ends up. In addition, he could also land on a team in a much worse position than the Leafs, in respect of their ability to realistically challenge both short and long-term for the Stanley Cup.

We should stress, we do believe the forward deserves a decent payrise after what he has achieved during his two full seasons of NHL action. However, he needs to stop letting his dad have such a big influence on him. (Easier said than done, admittedly.)

Nylander is already in a bad position in respect of his reputation among fans and teams alike. If he doesn’t resolve his contract situation sooner, who knows how this will all play out for him?

Next. To be the best you have to beat the best. dark

What is your take on the standoff between Nylander and the Toronto Maple Leafs? How do you see this whole negotiation process playing out? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.