Signings throughout the NHL can have an impact on the asking price of other players and while Dylan Larkin and William Nylander are not exact matches, the signing of the Detroit Red Wings forward on Friday could have an impact on what the Toronto Maple Leafs do with their restricted free agent forward in the days leading up to training camp.
Both were selected in the 2014 NHL Draft and have posted similar offensive totals (135 pts for Nylander, 140 pts for Larkin), but the Leafs forward has played 57 less games in three pro seasons.
The fact that Larkin is a center and Nylander has played mostly right wing does have an impact on what their market value is, but the Red Wings signing the 22-year-old to a five-year deal for an AAV of $6.1 Million could give Nylander’s agent Lewis Gross more leverage to ask for a higher salary on a deal that buys more years of unrestricted free agency.
Nylander expressed a desire to sign a long-term deal with Toronto at Smashfest last week, but the patient approach being adopted by GM Kyle Dubas and assistants Lawrence Gilman and Brandon Pridham likely means that they are trying to get the speedy Swede to sign a similar contract to other wingers coming off their entry-level deals (such as 2014 pick Nikolaj Ehlers, who signed a seven-year, $42 Million deal last summer).
If there is a wide gap between the two sides, it is possible that the compromise position will be a two or three-year bridge deal for a lesser amount.
If the Leafs sign Nylander to a bridge deal, that will give them a top-six forward for a lower price for a shorter window and keeps their options open if they want to add defensive help or go in another direction down the road, but it could give them more problems if he has a breakout season and more of a case for a pay increase when the deal expires.
Mark Hunter will not be joining another NHL club this season, as the former Leafs Assistant GM will resume management duties of the OHL London Knights.
Hunter chose to resign from the Leafs in June after not being selected over Kyle Dubas following Lou Lamoriello’s departure from Toronto, but his return to the Knights was not surprising with no vacant GM positions in the league.
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