Toronto Maple Leafs: Is William Nylander’s contract now a bargain?

The salary cap structure of the Toronto Maple Leafs is top-heavy at forward to put it lightly. This has led to several players becoming lightning rods for the frustrations of Leafs Nation.

The William Nylander contract has long been a source of debate among Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Some would have him on the first bus out of town, considering him overpaid. Others welcome his offensive flair and think he is a building block.

The running narrative has often been that Nylander is overpaid for what he produces on the ice, particularly in the playoffs. Following last year’s postseason run, perhaps that has changed. Is it possible that the deal is now a bargain for Toronto?

The winger is heading into the fourth year of a six-year contract worth $45 million. His annual cap hit is $6,962,366. This ranks fourth among Leafs players in terms of average annual value.

How does that stack up amongst his Maple Leafs peers in terms of contract value? Where does the deal fit into the salary structure amongst other NHL players? Let’s take a look at the oft-maligned player and his equally critiqued cap hit.

Comparing the William Nylander contract to other players

As mentioned, Nylander is making the fourth most on the team in average annual value. Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner all make more money. It is hard to argue that the former eighth overall draft pick should be paid in that stratosphere. It could also be argued that only Matthews is earning what he is paid among the top three contracts. But that is a story for another day.

Nylander has 103 goals and 263 points in 358 career games as a Maple Leaf. In the playoffs, where scorn from fans is at the highest, the Swede has nearly matched his regular-season output of 0.73 points per game. In last year’s postseason, Nylander was one of the best Leafs in their seven-game defeat to Montreal. The 25-year-old put up eight points in those seven contests, which led the team.

Most of the arguments against Nylander is that he does not play the physical, two-way game that always comes up at playoff time. That was never going to be his playing style, and someone needs to put the puck in the net. Nylander is a skilled offensive player who can put points on the scoresheet. With that being said,

When looking at comparable contracts to the one Nylander signed at age 22, the deal looks reasonable. The contract extensions for David Pastrnak in Boston, Kyle Connor in Winnipeg, and Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary are most similar based on age, cap hit, free agency status, and performance.

Nylander has not performed to the level of Pastrnak, who is one of the best bargains in the league. His performance relative to Connor and Gaudreau has probably even fallen short. But if you scan out a little bit and look at the rest of the NHL, the Nylander deal is favorable to many of his peers.

There are obvious questions about whether or not Leafs management had to give in to a restricted free agent who held out to get this contract. At this point, it seems the William Nylander contract is fair, if not a little excessive for past results. The key to this contract becoming a bargain will be in whether or not he can take the next step over its final three years.

What do you think of the William Nylander contract extension now that it is halfway through?  Do you think he is overpaid, underpaid, or fairly compensated? Let us know in the comments below.