Now that William Nylander has sole possession of the AHL scoring lead as a 19-year-old with 23 points in just 17 games, it seems the debate over his place in the league is being stirred up more and more every day. With the parent Leafs dying for scoring help, and the young Swede looking like a destroyer of worlds with the Marlies, you have to figure there’s also been a lot of internal discussion around whether he’s ready for the bigger stage.
If there isn’t really anything left for Nylander to learn in the minors – and it appears there isn’t – he should take a step forward in competition. But it looks like the Leafs will wait a little longer to make that move, at least until the new year, where they’ll benefit from giving him a second-half debut.
Nylander continues to lead AHL in scoring. 7 years until UFA tolls around 3rd week of Jan. Wouldn’t be surprised if called up a day later.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) November 22, 2015
This is an interesting tweet from Pronman that’s been making the rounds since yesterday, but what does it mean?
Well, we all know the Leafs will burn a year of Nylander’s entry-level contract (ELC) if he’s called up and plays 10-or-more games this season. It’s perhaps the main reason fans want to hold off on bringing him up, and that’s totally reasonable. Plus the sooner you bring him up, the sooner you have him go to free agency, presumably.
But that last part isn’t entirely true.
If the Leafs recall Nylander and he sticks (which he will), he can play 39 regular season games this season and have his unrestricted free agency status slide a season. He’ll still ring off a year of his ELC and have negotiate a new contract in 2018, but as for the seven accrued seasons he needs to hit unrestricted free agency, he won’t scratch off one of those yet.
Why? Because the NHL/PA collective bargaining agreement defines an accrued season as such:
“Accrued Season” means any League Year during which a Player was on a Club’s Active Roster for 40 (30 if the Player is a goalie) or more Regular Season Games, provided that, for the purposes of calculating an Accrued Season under this Agreement, games missed due to a hockey-related injury incurred while on a Club’s Active Roster shall count as games played for purposes of calculating an Accrued Season but only during the League Year in which the injury was incurred and a maximum of one additional season.
It took a while, but I’ve crunched the numbers, and it looks like 39 games is 43 fewer than 82. So after game 43 of this regular season, Nylander can make the jump to the Leafs and play out the rest of the schedule.
As Pronman pointed out, this would put his debut (assuming it went down this way) near the third week of January. Actually, game number 44 of the Leafs’ regular season is January 19th against the Flyers in Philadelphia, so that’s the real countdown date.
The arguments over whether Nylander deserves a promotion will rage on as he continues to lay waste to the AHL, and considering his ELC would take a hit this season, folks are still going to be concerned about it. But with his UFA status continuing to “slide” for a year, this late-January date for his first appearance makes a lot of sense, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he pulls on the Leafs sweater some time around then.
Now the Leafs and Nylander just need to decide on what jersey number he’ll wear so I can throw my credit card at them.