NHL Week in Review (November 24-29)

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It has been one of the biggest pieces of conversation in the NHL, especially as December 1 approaches.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were heading into the new season with one of the best groups of young talent in the league.

They had built a team full of young players and added a couple of veterans into the mix but when they signed John Tavares things got ratcheted up another level.

They became favourites to win it all as they were the team that had a base of young stars and enough experience to make it through.

A big part of that promise was a group of three young players who had all essentially come up together and helped this team to find the playoffs last year.

The first of those players to enter the NHL was William Nylander, a skilled forward from Sweden who quickly became a cornerstone.

When Nylander was added to Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews the Leafs became to gain some momentum.

As with any group of players though they will all come to important moments in their careers where they truly get to know their value.

In the NHL, teams are allowed to sign their rookies to no more than a three-year contract before the can become a free agent.

To give teams chances at keeping their players though the end of that contract makes the player a restricted free agent.

This allows any team to submit an offer sheet on that player which then allows that player’s current team to match.

Rarely are offer sheets submitted as it is considered bad form among NHL GMs so these young players generally resign for a bigger deal.

Nylander entered the new season without a contract as he was a restricted free agent and looked to sign a big deal to stay in Toronto.

Generally, it is not an issue to sign a young talent to a longer-term contract for more money but the Leafs were running into a serious situation this time around.

They had to think about the future of the team just as much as trying to get part of that future into a deal.

Nylander was asking to be paid like many young stars but for the Leafs his deal would have defined the next offseason.

That is when both Marner and Matthews would come up as restricted free agents and by all accounts, they are the real heads of this team.

Nylander is a key piece to this team but Matthews and Marner are the leaders of the future for the Leafs.

They will demand a lot of money in free agency and if the Leafs were to have signed Nylander to a monster deal the amount left to sign Matthews and Marner would likely not be enough.

Whatever the number would have been it was going to be a sign to the other two about what their worth should be.

Without Nylander, the Leafs could survive but with Marner and Matthews, there is no chance this team takes off.hockey-sidebar

So entering the season, the Leafs continued to battle with Nylander about what his contract would look like.

That battle continued throughout the start of the season and this weekend will come to a head on the final day available.

If Nylander doesn’t sign by the end of December 1 he will not be eligible to play this year in the NHL.

This week the Leafs have been looking at every possibility as they have phoned around to find deals from other teams while also trying to see what kind of deal they could sign.

Some said the best idea might be a bridge deal that could at least get Nylander on the ice and delay the big contract.

It would have let the Leafs commit to less while still paying Nylander a good salary and he could remain on the ice.

As of Friday, no deal was signed leaving many to wonder what could be done in the final day.

Saturday will be the day as he will make his decision on whether or not he will play in the NHL this year.

The Leafs certainly want him and he wants to play but when it comes to defining worth neither side will agree.

For both, it is all about the future as the Leafs need to look into the future of their team while Nylander was looking for some security in his young career.



A Big Decision

This week the mayor of Seattle doubled down on his statement that they will be ready by 2020. Being ready would mean that the KeyArena would be completely renovated just in time to bring two more professional leagues to the city. It is a key piece in the debate over the NHL’s latest expansion decision. This coming week the Board of Governors will make an important decision on whether or not Seattle will be granted an expansion franchise. The team seems to make sense as they would be the second professional team in an area that has expressed interest in the game. If the arena is ready there will be no need for a new arena to be built and so the board makes their decisions with a lot on their mind.

Another Opening

Coaches are often the first to go when a team is struggling because it is a visible position with a direct relation to the game on the ice. Over the last few weeks, a number of NHL coaches have lost their jobs with teams hoping the change can bring them back into the playoff hunt. In a way these moves are a chance to shock the team into being better but when other people start to get fired things are usually far worse off. That is the case in Philadelphia where the Flyers fired GM Ron Hextall. The GM position can rarely make a big difference in the season but clearly, the organization was not happy with the decisions made and so they have moved on as they try to find someone else.

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