William Nylander and the Montreal Canadiens: an announcement has just proven that it's truly a possibility
BY DAVID ST-JEAN AUGUST 5, 2023 (12:40)
Given that their salary cap for this season is already high (around $95.881 million), imagine how challenging it will be to retain everyone next year, especially with the massive contract increases that are anticipated. While Matthews' contract is sure to be substantial (around $14-15 million annually according to rumors), William Nylander's contract is not to be underestimated.
In fact, Sebastian Aho's recent signing has set a high bar for Nylander. The Hurricanes forward recently agreed to an 8-year deal that will earn him an average of $9.75 million. This signing suggests, according to many, that Nylander could fetch between $10 to $11 million, whether with the Leafs or elsewhere. With the salary cap puzzle already present for the Leafs, it's almost impossible to envision a scenario where the Swede remains in Toronto beyond the next season.
In addition to being handcuffed by the salary cap, Treliving is also under the pressure of the city. He won't be able to part with Nylander or any of the other upcoming free agents at the trade deadline, as the expectations to win are high. This season will be an all-or-nothing campaign for the Leafs, and trading Nylander, unless an unexpected and beneficial return is offered, is not an option.
This leads to the belief that most of the Leafs' impending unrestricted free agents will test the market next summer, especially if Matthews signs his massive contract with the organization. Knowing this, there's no doubt that Nylander will draw interest from the other 31 teams in the league.
What's exciting here is that Kent Hughes will have everything in place to be competitive in this matter. The Canadiens are already planning for a big summer in 2024. Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton seem to be aiming for that moment to transition to a new phase of the rebuild, and the addition of a notable free agent is certainly not to be ignored.
As of now, the Canadiens have over $15 million in cap space for the summer of 2024, with only three restricted free agents to sign: Samuel Montembeault, Arber Xhekaj, and Justin Barron. Adding in the potential for Price's contract to go on LTIR and the Canadiens could have over $25 million. Minus a few performance bonuses (+- $4 million), the Canadiens could have around $11 million in cap space (excluding Price). The option of Nylander (or Elias Pettersson, for example) is therefore quite plausible.
Imagine how the team's progression would elevate to the next level with a player like William Nylander on board.