If you were waiting around to find out if the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to come to terms with contract holdout William Nylander, you were waiting until almost the last possible minute.
With just eight minutes to go until the deadline to sign restricted free agents, the Maple Leafs and the 22-year-old found common ground. Toronto signed their man to a six-year deal, a creative and complex contract that carries an average annual value of $10.2 million.
The deal is laced through with a $24.5 million signing bonus and carries varying cap hits and base salaries.
In 2018-2019, for instance, the contract packs a $10,277,778 cap hit and a base salary of $10 million. It has $2 million in signing bonuses.
The second year of the contract has a base salary of $700,000, a cap hit of $6,962,366 with a whopping $8.3 million in signing bonuses to balance it out.
The way things break down for general manager Kyle Dubas is going to be instrumental in where he and the Maple Leafs go from here. There’s a lot on the plate of this franchise, with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner next on the docket. Both players could be in the same situation next year, with long contract deadlocks forcing the issue.
For Nylander, this was a saga. The restricted free agent and the team had varying degrees of separation right up until 20 minutes to deadline on December 1. If a deal hadn’t been done, Nylander would’ve sat the year. But the forward called Dubas from Sweden, reportedly and asked if he wanted to make a deal.
For the young general manager, it was the first big test of his career with Toronto and it will set the tone for the negotiations to come.
“We’ve had discussions with both of (Marner and Matthews) camps already,” said Dubas. “We’ll continue to do that. We want to avoid a situation where not all our players are here at training camp. We’re happy to have a solution (with Nylander), but this is not the preferred timing of the solution.”
And indeed, nobody ever wants to wait until zero hour to lock up a key piece of the franchise. But the Maple Leafs will have to face facts and next year may reveal that they can’t keep every piece of this dynamic arsenal.
Nylander had 20 goals and 41 assists last season. He’s expected to arrive in Toronto Sunday morning and may be ready to go for the Maple Leafs by Tuesday when they face the Sabres. He has medical testing to contend with and will have a little rust, but the team has their man and that’s the main thing right now.