Dallas Stars: Should Jim Nill and the Stars make a move for William Nylander?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 31: William Nylander #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 31, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** William Nylander
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 31: William Nylander #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 31, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Jets defeated the Maple Leafs 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** William Nylander /

William Nylander has been the biggest name thrown around the NHL (aside from Erik Karlsson) since the beginning of the offseason. Should Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars pursue him and make an offer to Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas?

By now, Toronto Maple Leaf fans are probably concerned a little bit—because, in a few days, a promising center that has been in their lineup in the past few seasons might be on another roster, playing for a new team. Nylander, who was the 8th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, might be on the trading block due to faulty salary negotiations between him and Maple Leafs’ General Manager Kyle Dubas.

Here is a look at Nylander’s stats since joining the league with the Maple Leafs:

(Note: ATOI means “average time on ice per game.”)

2015-16 Season: 22 GP | 6 G | 7 A | 13 P | 4 PIM | +1 +/- | 16:20 ATOI | 43 shots

2016-17 Season: 81 GP | 22 G | 39 A | 61 P | 32 PIM | -3 +/- | 16:01 ATOI | 205 shots

2017-18 Season: 82 GP | 20 G | 41 A | 61 P | 10 PIM | +20 +/- | 16:41 ATOI | 184 shots

Nylander, a Calgary, Alberta native, finished the 2017-18 season third among his teammates in points (surpassed only by Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews who posted 69 and 63, respectively), sixth in goals, fourth in assists, and third in plus/minus.

He also played two seasons with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL before being permanently moved to the Maple Leafs’ roster.

Here are his AHL stats:

2014-15 Season with MODO hockey of the SHL: 21 GP | 8 G | 12 A | 20 P | 6 PIM | +3 +/-

2014-15 Season with the Marlies: 37 GP | 14 G | 18 A | 32 P | 4 PIM | +8 +/-

2015-16 Season (time split between the Marlies and the Leafs): 38 GP | 18 G | 27 A | 45 P | 10 PIM | +7 +/-

There’s no doubt that Nylander is a stellar young player with loads of talent—and there’s also not a lot of doubt that Toronto is going to hit a brick wall with salary cap issues in the near future.

The Maple Leafs have 12 players (5 UFAs, 7 RFAs) who are due to become free agents at the conclusion of next season, most notably Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. Marner led the team in points last season and finished fourth on the roster in points the season prior (behind Matthews, James Van Riemsdyk, and Nylander, respectively) and first on the team in assists with 42.

Matthews, on the other hand, finished first on the team in his first year in the NHL, the 2016-17 season, with 69 points (40 G, 29 A), second the following season with 63 (34 G, 29 A) behind aforementioned teammate Mitch Marner, and has 16 points (10 G, 6 A) in 11 games so far this season.

Either way, you can expect that Kyle Dubas is going to have to pull a rabbit out of the hat if he wants not only to pay Marner and Matthews what they’re going to ask for but also find room to sign other players on the roster.

Other players aside from Matthews and Marner who will become restricted free agents (RFAs) after the conclusion of this season are LW Josh Leivo, RW Kasperi Kapanen, LW Andreas Johnsson, D Igor Ozhiganov, and G Garret Sparks.

The unrestricted free agents (UFAs) after this season are C Par Lindholm, LW Tyler Ennis, D Jake Gardiner, D Ron Hainsey, and D Martin Marincin. It’s expected that the Leafs will not resign Hainsey, who has a cap hit of $3 million this season. Hainsey is 37-years-old.

Also, keep in mind that the Maple Leafs took on the 7-year, $5.3 million per year salary hit of Nathan Horton, who was traded to Toronto by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015. Horton’s contract expires after the end of the 2019-20 season, and he has yet to play a game for the Maple Leafs.

And in addition to Horton’s contract, they also retain 1.2 million dollars of Phil Kessel’s salary when they traded him to Pittsburgh in July 2015. They will end up having to pay him $1.2 million every year until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Don’t forget that the Leafs would have much more cap space on their roster had they not signed John Tavares over the offseason. Tavares is making the most on the team at $11 million per season. Tavares is followed by Patrick Marleau, who is making $6.25 million per year until the end of the 2019-20 season.

Despite all of these payouts, Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs are still able to scrap together just over $12 million dollars in projected cap space. That said, with Matthews, Marner, and other players looking to make more money next offseason, they might have to look to move players to keep everyone under the money umbrella.

Shift your attention to the Stars. Dallas was in the running for not only the Tavares sweepstakes but also the chase to make the Ottawa Senators an appealing trade offer to acquire all-star defenseman Erik Karlsson. To put it bluntly, the Stars came up with the short end of the stick in both attempts, as Tavares became a Leaf and Karlsson became a Shark.

The Stars brought in a few names during the offseason, including goaltender Anton Khudobin and defenseman Roman Polak. As of now, Dallas is left with about $300,000 in cap space.

So, if they were perhaps to trade for Nylander, the would have to do a few things.

Firstly, they would have to give up a defenseman. A good one. Toronto has no problem with scoring, but their issues come on the blue line. Dubas probably wouldn’t even consider a deal unless there was a strong blueliner in the trade.

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There’s no way in a million years that GM Jim Nill and the Stars would be willing to give up John Klingberg. That leaves them with either Esa Lindell or Miro Heiskanen in terms of players that would sound even remotely attractive to the Maple Leafs. And if there is any indication of the past speculation of trade deals to bring Erik Karlsson to Dallas, Heiskanen will be no part in any trade as far as Jim Nill is concerned. That leaves the Stars with Lindell or potentially Julius Honka, both of whom probably don’t have the trade value for Dubas to accept a deal.

The second thing the Stars would have to do to trade for Nylander is find enough cap space to sign him after a trade is made. Both Lindell and Honka aren’t making nearly enough money to free up some of Dallas’ cap space to make room for Nylander, who is probably wanting a contract that would give him at least six to seven million per season.

If the Stars were willing to throw in a forward to the trade to help sweeten the deal, who would it be? Faksa? He’s a good player, but only making $2.2 million a year. Devin Shore? He’s had a solid year so far, but he is only making $2.3 million.

On top of that, Dallas, like the Maple Leafs, also has defense problems—the Stars’ offense isn’t perfect, but it certainly isn’t an area of concern that would warrant the need for a top six winger like Nylander.

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Dallas just simply doesn’t have what Toronto is looking for, and vice versa. Because of the lack of cap space and trade value that Kyle Dubas would want, Jim Nill should not pursue William Nylander, even if he puts up 60+ points per season.

  • Published on 11/28/2018 at 23:01 PM
  • Last updated at 11/28/2018 at 21:12 PM