As Dec. 1 nears, Toronto Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas will have to explore the possibility of trading William Nylander.
Put simply, fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are nothing short of tired of discussing the William Nylander contract stalemate.
Almost a fifth of the way into the 2018-19 regular season, the 22-year-old remains watching from afar in his native Sweden. In touch with — but nevertheless distanced from — his fellow teammates, without a contract and facing reminders abound of the Buds’ success in spite of his absence, frustrations almost surely occupy the daily thought process of the talented winger, as he inches closer to the possibility of an entire year removed from playing in the NHL.
Should Nylander remain without a contract between now and Dec. 1, it’s not just possible, but plausible that GM Kyle Dubas will opt to test the waters of a trade involving the talented forward. Despite his bold insistence that the Maple Leafs are in a position in which they’ll be able to keep the club’s “Big Three” — Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and the aforementioned Nylander — intact for seasons to come, few would trouble the notion that entertaining the prospect of a swap would be an increasingly wise course of action to undertake as the days progress.
Of course, anything can change at any given moment. But as both Nylander & Co. and the Maple Leafs’ administrative body await the moment in which the opposing negotiators blink, the question of what a Nylander trade would look like only further serves as a curious idea to explore.
As much as it hurts to write these words, let’s take a look at three possible destinations for William Nylander in the event of a swap.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
If there is a frontrunner in the hypothetical trade saga surrounding Nylander, it is unquestionably the Carolina Hurricanes.
Currently surrendering the lowest amount of shots against per game in the NHL (25.1), the club is comprised of one of the most depth-ridden blue lines in the recency of the dead puck era. With the likes of Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Dougie Hamilton, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Jaccob Slavin and Calvin De Haan fronting the organization’s defensive system, the Hurricanes are one of the few teams that could potentially surrender valuable pieces and remain relatively unscathed — a move that would alter the dynamic of almost any other club in the league.
Better yet, it’s already been established that GM Don Waddell would not hesitate to negotiate a heck of a deal in order to land Nylander. With cap space abound, the franchise is certainly in a position to pay the Swede his desired $8 million, as adding the winger would be seen by many as the final piece of a puzzle that has slowly been in the works of assembly for a very long time.
The only question, then, is one of tactics: what would the Hurricanes be willing to give up?
Speculators should look no further than the club’s right defenders when beginning considerations of this variety. Faulk‘s name has been floated among pundits for more than a year, Hamilton remains a most desired target among fans of the Buds and Pesce seems to be within the realm of reasonable possibility at the present moment. And if Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is to be believed — having asserted that, “Carolina has made it very clear that they are all in” — it is fair to assume that the Hurricanes’ pursuits would expand outside the realm of defense, as picks and/or prospects could serve as staples of up and coming offers.
Deal or no deal, expect Waddell & Co. to keep a watchful eye over the Nylander stalemate. Approaching the Maple Leafs could benefit both parties — even if it requires either side to usher forth the winds of change in an aggressive fashion.