How the Toronto Maple Leafs can solve the William Nylander problem

Photo of the pickswise logo
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon


Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have until Dec. 1 to re-sign restricted free agent William Nylander.

Who is William Nylander?

For two reasons, Nylander is the most notable RFA in the NHL. First, at just 22 years old he has already contributed back-to-back 61-point seasons. In 2017-18 he delivered 20 goals and 41 assists to go along with a plus-20 rating in 82 games. Second, Toronto is without question one of the best teams in the league. It opened as a co-favorite with a couple of others to win the Stanley Cup and it is currently a +750 favorite (the Tampa Bay Lightning are not far behind at +800, followed by the Nashville Predators at +900). In other words, what happens with Nylander is a big deal; so big that it could shape the future landscape of this NHL season.

How The Leafs Can Solve This Problem

There are three ways in which Toronto can solve the current problem with at least some degree of success. The best option, of course, is to sign Nylander to a long-term extension at a reasonable price. Of course, that’s easier said than done; if it wasn’t, it would have happened prior to the start of the regular season. Option number two on the totem pole of Toronto’s preferences is to ink a short-term deal. With a window to a Stanley Cup title perhaps not getting any wider than it is this season, simply keeping him around for the 2018-19 campaign before losing him would not be the worst thing in the world. The Maple Leafs can also trade the Calgary native, likely to a rebuilding franchise (otherwise known as “a bad team”) in exchange for a veteran who can help them win now. Nylander’s value is such that Toronto can command a decent veteran piece in return.

What is not going to happen, obviously, is Dec. 1 coming and going with no developments of any kind. The Leafs are too good and their front office is too intelligent to let Nylander become an unrestricted free agent. Moreover, Nylander’s situation—aside from not making as much money as he wants to be making—is too ideal to keep holding out.

The benefits for both parties of getting something done without requiring a trade (option No. 3 on the preference depth chart) are too enticing to pass up. With the 2014 first-round draft pick, Toronto basically features two lines that boast top-line talent. Nylander would take the ice at right wing alongside center Auston Matthews (currently a +500 co-favorite with Alex Ovechkin to lead the NHL in goals), with Patrick Marleau likely holding down the other forward spot. That would bump Kasperi Kapanen down to the second line with center John Tavares and left wing Zach Hyman. The domino effect would thus give the third line a boost, as well, allowing Nazem Kadri to work with Mitchell Marner as his right wing. That is a recipe for goals, goals, and more goals from the first minute through the 60th minutes of games.

Can The Leafs Win Without Him?

Even without Nylander, Toronto is an offensive juggernaut of the highest caliber. It is currently second in the NHL in goals per game (3.8). Four different players have tallied at least 12 points, led by Matthews’ 16 (Marner has 13 and Tavares currently sits at 12). Nylander can only look at all the obvious statistics—and future dollars—that he is passing up by sitting out. You don’t even to be that good to rack up a boatload of stats on a line with Matthews; and Nylander is good. He can be great, in fact, but he’ll have to lace ‘em up sooner rather than later if he wants to continue his rise to stardom.

A long-term contract seems unlikely at this point, as the sides aren’t close and the Leafs may need to save money down the road to extend the likes of Matthews and Marner. But a short-term deal should get done. It would enhance Toronto’s very realistic Stanley Cup bid and it would allow Nylander to put up the kind of numbers that would eventually garner him the kind of deal he wants—albeit somewhere else.

Virginia Bonuses

See All


Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

FanDuel Sportsbook


Get a $1,000 No Sweat First Bet

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $1,000!

Get refunded if you lose up to $1,000

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at



Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF



Bet $10, Win $200 if Any NBA Team Hits a Three Pointer!

Sign up for a new betting account with BetMGM

Place a pre-game moneyline wager of at least $10 on a NBA game

Win $200 in free bets if any team hits a three pointer

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Bet $5 & Win $150 If Your First Moneyline Bet Wins!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on the pre-game Moneyline in any sport

Win $200 if your team wins

Offer valid for new players only. Must be 21 years or older to play. Reward paid in site credit. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.



Get 4x $200 In Free Bets

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Bet up to $200 and If you lose, you get a refund

You will receive Free Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $200 each for four days.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook


Get a $1,250 risk-free bet

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account

Place your first bet of $10 or more

If your first bet loses, you’ll receive a refund up to $1,250 from Caesars in free bets

21+. Terms and conditions apply.



Bet $10, Get $200 if Any NHL Team Scores A Goal

Sign up for a new betting account with BetMGM

Place a pre-game moneyline wager of at least $10 on a NHL game

Win $200 in free bets if any teams scores a goal

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get 5x $100 in Free Bets for Steelers vs. Colts!

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.



Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.



Get $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight


Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.



Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.



Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

Underdog Fantasy


First deposit is 100% matched up to $100 with Underdog Fantasy

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $100) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply