I’ll lead off with something most of us should already know: William Nylander is a damn good hockey player. Even further impressive is the upside of the 22-year old, 2014, 8th overall pick. I mean you, at the very least, must be a relatively good player to post back-to-back 60 point seasons at the NHL level, regardless of who it is you’re skating alongside each night.
But at what height should Nylander’s prospective ceiling be capped? Will he ever be more than a 60-point secondary scoring option? How many of his 122 points produced over the past two seasons were byproducts? There exist so many variables to first be examined in order determine the answer to this question that I don’t even know where to begin.
As a compliment to Auston Matthews, Nylander has (at the very least) proven to be a no-brainer, top-6 forward. Skating alongside an All-World centerman like Matthews could cast a similar shadow over many, though. Take a look at the production of Kasperi Kapanen since assuming Nylander’s role in Toronto, for example.
It’s the William Nylander without Auston Matthews that should have the Blackhawks hesitant to place a definitive value on him. Long story short, We haven’t seen enough from Nylander, as an offensive generator, to have Stan Bowman lick his chops in envy.
As a complementary player you can plug into a template of proven linemates, I’m sold. Send the man over immediately to leech points off the Blackhawks very own All-American magic man, Patrick Kane, right this very minute. Kane would benefit immensely. Hell, the entirety of the Blackhawks offense would benefit immediately from Nylander’s presence. There’s no one doubting this.
But I’d only be willing to compromise if Nylander, himself, were willing to be paid like the complementary player he’s proven to be thus far into his career. I am just not in the realm of those willing to blindly rush forward and overpay for secondary scoring merely because said secondary scorer possesses a familiar name.
And overpay you would…on two fronts, for that matter.
First of all, acquiring the rights to William Nylander wouldn’t be cheap. To be honest, I can’t even begin to provide a serious, logical estimate as to what it might cost Stan Bowman to lure him from the clutches of Mike Babcock. Speculations aside, I think it’s safe to assume that Toronto is going to demand defense in return for Nylander’s rights. Putting myself in Leafs GM Kyle Dubas’ shoes and glancing over my roster, the only glaring hole (if such a hole exists) is the lack of a legitimate shutdown defenseman. Sure, Morgan Rielly is off to an albatross start. Sure, Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev are great peripheral options, as well. But what Toronto lacks is that definitive, shutdown defender you’d want on the ice for every single one of the closing seconds of a series-clinching playoff game.
The Blackhawks do not possess such a defenseman to give.
One might hypothetically dangle Brandon Saad as bait (as some have proposed) but why would Toronto want another expensive forward when their primary flaw is clearly in their depth on defense? Plus, they already possess forwards at a fraction of the cost producing as much (if not more) than Saad currently is.
Let’s face facts, if Toronto opts to move on from its young, offensively gifted weapon, it will be for defense. An area so paper-thin that, regardless of how many goals they score each night, many consider a hole too gaping for the Leafs to be serious Stanley Cup contenders. You frankly do not move a chip like Nylander unless you’re filling this vacancy.
Then there’s the matter of contract negotiations. Theoretically speaking, say you did find a way to come to a compromise with Toronto and you did acquire Nylander’s rights. What then? I hope you’re both able and willing to fork over eight or so million dollars to a complimentary forward because, quite frankly, that’s the only way you’re going to see the unrelenting Nylander on the ice this season.
As noted prior, I like Nylander. But the only players deserving of $8 million annually are those proven offensive generators who consistently put forth 80-100 point seasons. Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, and Ryan Getzlaf are examples of superstars who earn in this price range due to their knack for carrying their teams offensively. William Nylander is not Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf or Steven Stamkos and therefore should not be paid as such.
Either way, this whole ordeal is nothing but hyperbole fueled by an abundance of naive Blackhawks fans who are familiar with Nylander’s name. The types who, once they see someone like Nylander might be available, react as if he’s something shiny and therefore want him for their own. There’s no real smoke to any of this. This is all hypothetical nonsense, folks.
That said, if Nylander inevitably is moved, there are an abundance of other destinations that make much more sense than the Chicago Blackhawks.
Faulk and a pick for Nylander?
Aho-Nylander-Teravainen has a nice ring to it. Hell, look what Aho has done for Micheal Ferland so far in 2018. That’s a guy who struggled to maintain relevance alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan and is now, all of a sudden, scoring at a superstar’s pace.
Nashville would similarly be an outstanding landing spot for Nylander. The Predators need the scoring and seeing that Nashville essentially breeds stud defenseman like a puppy mill, it’d make for an ideal trade partner with the Leafs… though Toronto may be forced to sweeten the pot if they want someone like Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm in return.