Puck Drop: Will the Leafs Re-Sign Nylander?

I’ve been putting this post off until the very last minute, hoping that I could give you all some news about the will-he-or-won’t-he signing of William Nylander.

If you read last week’s quarter-season edition of Puck Drop, you already know that Toronto’s star winger is playing chicken with his team’s front office. Nylander has been a restricted free agent since the end of last season, and the two parties have yet to come to an agreement about new contract terms.

The Leafs have until tomorrow at 5pm to sign or trade Nylander, or the Swede will officially be sitting out the rest of the 2018-19 NHL season.

Toronto doesn’t want to lose Nylander, and head coach Mike Babcock told reporters on Thursday that he’s not too worried.

“I’ll tell you again, this is what I think, and it’s just what I think,” said Babcock. ” [Leafs GM] Kyle [Dubas] and I talk about this every day so I’m up to date on what’s going on. There’s lots of opinion out there. Let’s not confuse opinion and facts; we think Willie is going to be here. We think Willie is going to be here for a long time. We think he’s going to be a career Leaf. That’s what we think, that’s what we believe.”

While Nylander is one of the major young players that Toronto hopes will eventually bring home the Stanley Cup, the Maple Leafs have shown that they can survive in his absence. The team made a major investment in signing John Tavares over the offseason; with the help of key players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Morgan Reilly, and Kasperi Kapanen, Tavares and company have been more than able to pick up the slack.

However, Nylander has proven his worth in a dramatic fashion over his short time in the NHL. In each of the two full years he’s played, Nylander scored more than 60 points and 20 goals.

Speculation is that Nylander may be asking for a contract somewhere around the range of $8 million per year. Whether he gets it remains to be seen, and the hockey world is not-so-patiently awaiting the answer.

Injury Report

Good news for the Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews is back.

Toronto’s star forward missed a total of 14 games after suffering a shoulder injury against the Jets on October 27th. Matthews returned for Wednesday’s game against San Jose, during which he scored an impressive three points (including two power play points).

Los Angeles is also happy to see the return of a major team contributer—goaltender Jonathan Quick has been activated from the IR after missing 12 games. The Kings have to be hoping Quick’s healthy return can be enough to jumpstart a push in the right direction; the team is currently dead last in NHL power rankings.

All is not well in Boston, however. The B’s Kevan Miller is slated to miss five weeks with a larynx injury after a John Tavares shot ricocheted off his stick and into his throat during Tuesday’s game against the Maple Leafs. Miller had recently returned from a hand injury, and the injury-ravaged Bruins can’t feel great about losing yet another blueliner.

Play of the Period

Matt Duchene showed off some serious coordination with this mid-air puck slap. Can’t ask for a flashier game-winning goal than that.

Image credit: Sporting News

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