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William Nylander

(Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Should The Maple Leafs Trade William Nylander?

William Nylander
Should the Maple Leafs trade William Nylander? After another playoff disappointment, Nylander could be a name on the move. (Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Should The Maple Leafs Trade William Nylander?

Since 2005 the Toronto Maple Leafs have the same number of playoff series wins as the Atlanta Thrashers. If you live under a rock, the Thrashers no longer exist and they now play in Winnipeg as the Jets. After a franchise record 115 point season capped off which another playoff failure, the Maple Leafs need to make changes. The only problem is Toronto is totally capped out and trading a guy like William Nylander might be the only realistic course of action.

The Leafs will enter the offseason with *some* cap space but it will likely vanish quickly. Jack Campbell is set to hit the open market this offseason and he’s going to get paid. If you haven’t been paying attention, there is going to be a shortage in the free agent goalie department. Campbell will get his money and the Leafs will have to pony up re-sign him.

Mark Giordano also goes back on the free agent market. Toronto only has four defensemen under contract so adding another on is on the to-do list. The point is, if Toronto is going to make any real change, Nylander continues to be the obvious name they could trade to shake things up.

You’re not trading Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner. You’re not trading John Tavares for a different reason. Morgan Reilly was just extended and he’s already the top defensemen. Sure, if you can find a taker for someone like TJ Brodie, go for it. The reality is, the only attractive trade piece on the roster is Nylander.

Nylander, 26, probably gets a bad rap by the Leafs fan base. The Leafs second line winger put up an 80 point season including a career high 34 goals. Look, if it bothers you that he’s not always consistent and won’t kill you on the forecheck, be my guest. Nylander is a damn good player with a wicked shot and is a more than proven goal scorer. A 54.3 CF% is a really good mark for any player.

The former first round pick in 2014 has two years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $6,962,366. Truthfully, I don’t see his cap number as a bad figure. He would probably get more than that on the open market if he were an unrestricted free agent today. There will be suitors.

I don’t envy Kyle Dubas’ position. Personally, I wouldn’t move Nylander but what other option does he have? Maybe you can beg someone to take Jake Muzzin if you lump in some draft picks to upgrade the defense. The fact of the matter is, if Reilly is your top line defensemen, you’re going to have problems in your d zone. Upgrading that blue line unit should probably be the goal. I just don’t know if Dubas will see it that way or if he even has an option to upgrade that area.

Don’t forget the Maple Leafs were the most electric powerplay team in the league converting 27.3% of the time. Nylander was an enormous on that unit and banking on someone else replicating that success (13 goals, 18 assists) is far from a guarantee. When Nylander actually got the chance to skate with Marner and Matthews, REALLY good things happened.

What will Kyle Dubas do with William Nylander? A trade feels like a strong possibility. It’s just hard to feel good about Dubas pulling the trigger on such a move. Remember that time he traded Nazem Kadri for Tyson Barrie? The grass isn’t always greener and this historic Leafs team deserves a chance to run this puppy back one more time.

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