Trading William Nylander is not the answer

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Being a key cog in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization has it’s perks and it’s downsides.

The glamour of playing in Canada’s hockey hotbed is enticing and exciting, but the fan pressure and media coverage can find ways to stir things up in the 6. In his first full NHL season, 20 year-old William Nylander is getting a taste of the rumour mill and it’s rather surprising. Despite producing 36 points in 53 games (ranking him fourth in rookie scoring) Nylander finds himself involved in the centre of trade whispers that are being amplified via social media. 

In a recent segment on TSN 1050 Radio, TSN Insider Darren Dreger name-dropped Nylander as the likely asking price from the Anaheim Ducks in a potential trade for Brendan Montour or Shea Theordore. No disrespect to Montour or Theodore, who are valued defence prospects in their own right, but they don’t contain the same value that a William Nylander does. But as we saw in this summer’s Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson swap, the market for a top-four defenceman is a pricey one. 

It’d be easy to disregard the Nylander rumour if it didn’t at least hold some ground.  The widely-regarded concept is to flip Nylander for a top-four defenceman and boost a young and growing back end in the process. While the Leafs could use a number one defenceman, a Nylander type deal wouldn’t be the smart way to acquire one, let alone acquire one itself. 

Let’s not forget the value and skill that William Nylander possesses. Not so long ago, Nylander, not Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner, was the face of Leafs new regime. Landing transcendent talents like Marner and Matthews puts Nylander out of the spotlight, in some respects. In virtue of that, the idea of a trade seems to be an easier pill to swallow for Leafs fans. Regardless of the abilities of Marner and Matthews, it shouldn’t undermine what Nylander can bring to the table.

There’s no limit to the number of dynamic forwards you can have, right? Trading a talent like Nylander to fill a void isn’t the answer. With the Leafs rebuild accelerating at a pace not many expected, Toronto is shaping into a desirable free agent destination. Toronto has morphed into a promising destination for free agents and will surely gauge the interest of players that originate from the Greater Toronto Area. Selling high-end free agent defenceman to suit up for the Maple Leafs won’t be a tough sell, but rather, an opportunity for the Leafs to cash in on the big fish in free agency. 

If the Leafs want to test the trade market for a defenceman, they have an abundance of assets they could package together. One of Brendan Leipsic or Kasperi Kapanen along with a draft pick could land the Leafs a valued defenceman and only provide a dent to the Leafs long-term plans. 

There are many ways the Leafs can beef up their blue-line, but trading William Nylander would hurt the Leafs more than help. We are yet to see Nylander come close to his full potential and the idea of trading him isn’t just premature; it’s unnecessary.

While the Leafs unexpected playoff push has amplified excitement around the club, patience must still be preached. While acquiring another defenceman is enticing, it’s not big enough of a priority to flip a talented youngster like Nylander. 

If the Leafs want to find a true number one defenceman, their best odds are to strike gold in the draft or pry someone from free agency. The trade market for defenceman is an ugly place and trading Nylander for a second pairing defenceman is a step backward for the Leafs. 

  • MST

    You can’t tell me that trading Nylander for any one of: Lindholm, Dumba or Trouba wouldn’t be an upgrade. And it’s not that unreasonable either given that nylander is expansion exempt and Anahiem and Minnesota are in a bad place when it comes to that draft. Plus Trouba doesn’t want to be in Winnipeg and winnipeg doesn’t want someone who will bolt. All reasons why there might be a deal for Toronto that’s a net win with regards to Nylander. Kapanen and a 1st won’t get you any of those players.

  • G2

    Trading Nylander for almost anything at this point would be ridiculous. No one even knows how good he can be yet. Let TSN to hype this crap – Lou ain’t doing it. There are a lot of things that can done before you need to trade Nylander.

  • Stan Smith

    At some point in time the Leafs are more than likely going to deal some of their young players for an established dman. It just isn’t going to happen this season, and it isn’t going to be one of the “big three”, Matthews. Marner, or Nylander.

  • LukeWarmWater

    I’m sure some one in the media might suggest we fire Babcock after all look how well the Islanders, Blues, Bruins have played since dumping their coaches. Today the Habs in what is becoming an annual swoon bring in Julien and fire their coach. Its a trend picking up momentum.

    • The China Wall

      Ha ha ha, I was thinking the same thing.

      Perhaps we can get a count-down clock (similar to the Stamkos one) tracking the number of days before some idiot in the MSM comes up with that whopper…

      We could have an over/under contest to come up with the starting number – I’ll kick it off with a suggestion for 30 days.

  • LukeWarmWater

    Jacob absolutely superb piece. Btw did you hear the latest rumour mill that the Jets might want to trade Laine for a better goalie. Now I don’t think that is the answer. But you being an expert on the Jets writing on a leaf site to could obviously milk some stories out of the Laine rumours. Seems as logical as your story in here.