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William Nylander asks the Maple Leafs for $10 million a year

Among the 32 NHL clubs, it would be hard to find a team with a busier summer in 2023 than the Maple Leafs. After being eliminated in the second round by the Panthers, the team had to decide whether to offer GM Kyle Dubas a new contract, store for free-roaming players and, most importantly, address the cases of William Nylander and Auston Matthews, who will be free-roaming in a year’s time.

Clearly, we’d like to sign them long-term right now.

In the end, Dubas left and was replaced by Brad Treliving, who hasn’t been idle on the free-agent market. For better or worse.

Now, all eyes are on the Nylander and Matthews files. As for the latter, chances are good we’ll see him sign a three-, four- or five-year contract that will make him the player with the league’s biggest annual salary. At least, that’s the word on the street (and the optimism seems good).

In Nylander’s case, however, the news from Toronto is not encouraging. According to Chris Johnston, who says that negotiations are not going well, the player thinks he deserves an annual salary of $10 million, but the club would only be prepared to offer him a “figure in the $8 million range”.

Needless to say, we’re a long way from a deal.

Nylander’s request for a $10 million salary is surprising at first glance. After all, he may be quite a player, but he’s often seen as “the fourth” in the Core Four, which also includes Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares.

Prior to the most recent season, he had never maintained a point-per-game pace. He did so this year with 87 points (including 40 goals) in 82 games, but when you’re paying $10 million a year for a winger, you’d expect him to have a better record.

However, two factors seem to explain Nylander’s demands: he doesn’t want to make much less money than the other three stars in Toronto (which has already been the case for several years) and he’s the only one of the four who makes the playoffs every year.

And since the other guys in Toronto didn’t want to sign on the cheap, it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to either (especially since he’s been underpaid in recent years, earning $7.5 million a year on his current contract, which expires next season).

That said, I doubt he’ll end up getting $10 million a year (in Toronto, at least). Will he be willing to go down to $9.5M or even $9M a year? If not, he could very well be traded in the coming weeks.

In short, while the news is good for Auston Matthews, it’s not so good for William Nylander’s contract. I can’t wait to see how Treliving and Brendan Shanahan handle it all.

In bursts

– It’s understandable.

– That’s for sure.

– Charles Hudon joins the Kings’ club-school.

– They will have the task of giving the team credibility and guiding the youngsters.

– Andrew McCutchen is in Pittsburgh to stay. My text on the subject.

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