We’re almost halfway through August and Leafs fans are wondering: when is William Nylander getting re-signed? The better question is not when, but rather how much will the cap hit be? Below are players who have signed new deals within the last two years with a cap hit of $3.75 million or more. I don’t see the deal being lower than that.
The 2017-18 season was the second consecutive year Nylander has posted 61 points. He’s built some nice chemistry with Auston Matthews, and the two were very successful early on in the season. Even though he is very skilled, there are holes in his game. His compete level is inconsistent and he doesn’t kill penalties. Nikolaj Ehlers’ $6 million cap hit is my limit with Josh Bailey’s $5 million the floor. It would definitely be beneficial to have him around the five million rather than the six, especially when they have to sign Matthews and Marner. That brings us to the next question, how much should Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews get?
Mitch Marner finished the season on a high note. He had 69 points during the regular season with 35 coming in the second half. His strong play carried over in the playoffs where he had nine points in seven playoff games. A playoff performance like that always boosts up your market value. Like Nylander, he also doesn’t see shorthanded ice time and will have to prove he’s more of the player we saw in the second half rather than the first. Speculation is he will play with John Tavares, so maybe he is in for a career season. David Pastrnak’s $6.6 million cap hit is the limit for me with Jason Zucker’s $5.5 million the floor.
Auston Matthews had a tough season, endured a lot of injuries and was quite invisible in the playoffs. The obvious answer is not to be paid more than John Tavares, so where does that leave us? He still scored 34 goals and had 63 points in 62 games played. Goal scorers are hard to find and Matthews has shown he can score in many ways. Five-on-five is where he excels, he finished the year tied for fifth overall with 29 even strength goals. He also doesn’t kill penalties and we have to wonder if Mike Babcock gives him more responsibility this season. All fans salivate at the idea of all three with Tavares on the power-play. We’ll have to wait and see if Babcock decides to load up the top unit. Lower than Nikita Kucherov’s $9.5 million would be great but Jack Eichel’s $10 million cap hit is the limit for me with Ryan Johansen’s $8 million the floor.
It will be interesting to see if Kyle Dubas will try to bridge deal these kids. Bridge deals can offer value in the short-term, but if they become point-per-game players or better, then making a long-term deal now could mean more value in the long run when the cap goes up. There is risk either way and that is what Dubas is figuring out. The kids are extremely talented and their potential is high. How much do you think they should get paid?