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William Nylander: in the coming year, he must be a priority for the CH

Since July 1, there’s been a lot of talk about William Nylander’s contractual situation. The Maple Leafs forward, who will be an independent player in a year’s time, finally wants to be paid what he’s worth, but Toronto won’t give him the $10 million a year he seems to covet.

We agree that it’s a lot of money, but he’s entitled to ask for a salary similar to the other members of the Core Four. And since the other guys won’t sign on the cheap, he won’t either.

In short, the idea of him leaving Toronto within 12 months seems more realistic than ever. The question now is which club would be willing to acquire him and meet his salary demands.

And like colleague Marc-Olivier Cook, who spoke to me about the idea earlier this summer, Arpon Basu says he thinks Nylander should be on the Tricolore’s radar over the next 12 months.

In the short term, it’s questionable whether it’s realistic to see him land in Montreal. Even if the Tricolore has a nice bank of prospects, it’s doubtful that the Maple Leafs would be willing to trade a forward of Nylander’s calibre to their eternal Montreal rivals.

This is true for all Atlantic teams, but it’s even truer when you consider the rivalry between the two clubs.

But even if that were the case, we can’t rule out the possibility of Nylander becoming a free agent next summer. He could decide to test the market if he doesn’t get an offer to his liking, especially since the salary cap will finally be raised.

And since the Maple Leafs really don’t seem willing to give him the money he covets, it’s even more likely that he’ll test the market if he stays in Toronto this season.

A year from now, the Habs will have plenty of wiggle room under the salary cap (we can expect $10-12M), so they could afford to offer $10M a year to a guy like Nylander. We know the team needs offensive punch, and in Nylander, we’d get a 28-year-old winger who’s a solid scorer and capable of playoff performance.

He could replace a guy like Josh Anderson on the top-6, which would be a pretty major upgrade for a club that will then start to aspire to the playoffs.

If the Tricolore are ready to make a big splash on the free-agent market in a year’s time and Nylander is available, Kent Hughes will have to do everything in his power to convince the Swede to come to town. He’s potentially the answer to the lack of offensive punch in the top-6, and with the salary cap set to rise, a $10 million salary will be easier to absorb.

Is Nylander in Montreal in 2024-25 a yes or a no?

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