Should New Jersey Devils Make A Call On William Nylander?

William Nylander #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
William Nylander #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been on a tear since the start of the season, even without a holding out William Nylander. Should the New Jersey Devils try to make a call on the center?

The New Jersey Devils offense looked pretty, pretty good in their first game of the season. Scoring five on the Edmonton Oilers isn’t exactly unheard of, but it’s still impressive for the Devils to show that much offensive chemistry while playing thousands of miles away from home.

One offense that is playing at the highest level in the NHL is the Toronto Maple Leafs. John Tavares looks like a franchise changing signing, and the team has scored 20 goals in its first four games. That’s even more impressive since they are without their 22-year-old center William Nylander.

Obviously, it’s not like Nylander is just spare parts for the Maple Leafs. He had a 61 point season before he was old enough to drink a beer in the United States. (Luckily for him, he was old enough to drink in Canada.) He matched that number with another 61 point season last year.

Nylander is so young and so good already, but could the Maple Leafs really afford to just give him up over a contract dispute?

If that’s the case, then Ray Shero should definitely put himself in the conversation to acquire his rights. What that will cost is a whole other conversation.

The money is much easier for the Devils to figure out than compensation for the Maple Leafs. Nylander is probably trying to get as much as he possibly can because he knows once Auston Matthews comes up, the money will soon dry up for good. That’s why signing a bridge deal made much more sense for a player like Nikita Kucherov than it does for Nylander.

The Devils, on the other hand, have as much salary cap space as anyone. Yes, they eventually have to pay Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier, but they aren’t going to make a combined $22 million that we expect Matthews and Tavares to make.

The rumors say Nylander wants to make $8 million dollars. That may seem crazy for a player who has a career high 22 goals, but Leon Draisaitl got $8.5 million without ever scoring 30 goals. Either way, I don’t think Shero pays him $8 million. He might pay him $7 million, but eight seems out there for any team.

Honestly, I think a long-term, $7 million per season deal could work for both sides.

The major issue is the compensation the Maple Leafs will ask for. The Maple Leafs will try to make the conversation start with Ty Smith. That should end the conversation if they demand him in the deal. The Devils should not lose Ty Smith unless they get a top-two defenseman in return who’s signed long term. If the two sides could get past that, the deal would likely look something like Damon Severson, Michael McLeod and a first-round pick for William Nylander.

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That seems like a steep price for one player who’s never scored more than 22 goals, but he’s already a top center, and it would allow the Devils to take the pressure off Pavel Zacha and see what he’s really made of.

The first-round pick seems like a deal breaker here. Giving up a good young, cost-controlled defenseman, a high-upside NHL center prospect, and a first rounder is just too much. We all wanted Shero to give up the first-round pick last season to make a splash, but he turned it into Ty Smith. He should never give up a first rounder when he doesn’t have to do it.

Nylander would be a luxury for this Devils team, but he’s not a necessity. The Devils should save their assets for a possible defenseman trade, instead for another young center that could force a logjam at that position.