Toronto Maple Leafs restricted free agent forward William Nylander doesn’t yet have a contract in place as training camp nears, but he remains optimistic a deal will get done.
“I’ve said all along that (first-year general manager Kyle Dubas) wanted to take things slow, and I’m fine with that,” Nylander told reporters Thursday during the NHL’s European player media tour. “They’re going back and forth with my agent, from what I hear. We’ll see what happens. They said it would take a while, and I’m still not worried. When it gets done, it gets done.”
Nylander said he expects a deal will be reached before the Maple Leafs open training camp on Sept. 13. He made reference to fellow restricted free agent Dylan Larkin’s five-year, $30.5 million contract signed with the Detroit Red Wings last week when discussing his own status.
“Now that contract negotiations have started, you’re more aware of what’s going on with things like that,” Nylander said. “Right now, once something like that happens, you’re more updated on what’s going on around the league, more educated. But once you sign, I don’t think you pay attention to that.
“There is no extra pressure or urgency to get something done just because guys like (Larkin) sign.”
While Larkin, 22, has 140 points in 242 games through his first three NHL seasons, Nylander, also 22, has 135 in 185 games over the same span. He had 61 points while playing all 82 games last season, scoring 20 goals and registering a career-high 41 assists.
Nylander added one goal and three assists during Toronto’s Stanley Cup playoff run, which ended in Game 7 of the first round against the Boston Bruins.
Since adding John Tavares on a seven-year, $77 million contract to begin the offseason, Dubas has said he believes the team will be able to retain Nylander in addition to fellow young forwards Mitchell Marner and Auston Matthews while remaining under the salary cap. Marner and Matthews could become restricted free agents after this season.
Nylander, who is expected to move from center to full-time winger with Tavares now in tow, said he hopes Dubas is indeed able to keep the team’s core in place for years to come.
“I think it would be amazing,” Nylander said. “We’ve been playing together now for a couple of years and having a lot of fun and a lot of success together. It would be a blast to be together for a long time.”
—Field Level Media