The Toronto Maple Leafs now have two days to hammer out a deal with forward William Nylander, who will be ineligible to play in the 2018-19 season if he hasn't signed a contract by the deadline.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Maple Leafs "will ring the bell on" their final offer to the 22-year-old. If Nylander rejects it, Toronto "either trades him or let’s the deadline pass," McKenzie added.
Head coach Mike Babcock once again asserted confidence that the Maple Leafs will keep Nylander, and that he'll finish his career where it started.
Mike Babcock: "We think Willy's going to be here and we think Willy's going to be here a long time. We think Willy's going to be a career Leaf."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 29, 2018
The Nylander saga has hockey insiders just as confused as hockey fans. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman raised eyebrows when he shared a prediction that 2018-19 will mark Nylander's final season with the Maple Leafs, and that they'll look to trade the star forward after this year.
Friedman added that he believes Nylader and the Leafs are about $300,000 per season apart. But that's only complicated matters, per Friedman, who said both sides "think they’ve significantly moved off their original positions."
At this point, it doesn't sound like a bridge deal is in order for the Leafs and Nylander. If he's going to sign a contract, it's going to have to be long-term, plain and simple.
But it's not all that simple for the Maple Leafs, who have to extend Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Both players figure to get at least $12 million per season on their next deals, and with John Tavares in the first year of a $77 million deal, the Leafs have to be careful with how they manage their cap situation.
What This Means
Nylander is simply trying to max out on a big-time extension while he's young, but the Leafs know that they have to be cautious with how much they pay guys not named Matthews or Marner.
It's truly anybody's guess where this saga ends. It's either a new contract, a trade or Nylander sitting out the rest of the season. There are two more days of anticipation left.