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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Sports Network(s) might run Nylander out of town

I don’t have any NHL or sports media connections, but one thing that I know for sure is that professional athletes, for the most part, read all the things written about them. Tweets, articles, Instagram comments, they see all that stuff. They also watch things like Insider Trading on TSN, Sportsnet, whatever. Players like to be aware of what’s going on in the league and the perception of it just like we do.

This isn’t a new take. It’s pretty common knowledge.

Because of that, I have zero doubt William Nylander realizes he’s been cast as an odd-man out from this Leafs core for essentially the last two years, especially when sites need clicks or channels need viewers. Every time TSN needs a Toronto trade talking point, it’s a simple formula they use: Nylander for an upgrade on the blue-line. It’s been like it since the team started turning the corner after the Matthews draft.

Mitch Marner? He doesn’t show up in the hypotheticals. It’s never him, even though the two players have indiscernible value to the team. It’s Nylander’s name in those rumour mills, every single time. And one thing that’s bubbling to the surface as this negotiation drags on into nervous territory is that he knows it.

The angle I’ve heard a number of times in the last week about why Nylander doesn’t want to take a hometown discount in Toronto is because he doesn’t want to be the guy that takes the personal sacrifice only to be shipped out a year from now and miss all the fun. And if that’s what he truly believes, then I think he’s one-hundred percent in the right. Why would he take a lowball offer now, then see himself sent to the Hurricanes next summer when the Leafs decide paying 36-million for four forwards is too much?

But we don’t know that’s going to happen, and neither does Nylander really. The only people who seem to think it’s a certainty are those who beat that drum constantly on shows such as Leafs Lunch, HockeyCentral, and so on. And I think that type of talk has a larger effect on players than we think.

We tend to overlook the human element of this game a lot, and that translates into us just saying “Well he scored this much, here’s what his salary should be”. But it isn’t that simple, and this negotiation, which is now spilling into nearly 10% of a season missed for Nylander, is becoming a bit weird. I can’t help wondering if a crucial part of it is the process of Dubas convincing him that the noise he’s been hearing for the last 24 months is just that, and it’s time to tune it out.

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  • mst

    More crap about how Nylander is as good as Marner. Crap! He is not! Nylander has ridden Matthews’ coattails. Without Matthews or Marner on his line Nylander has sucked!

    A lot is written on this site about Nylander at 5on5 as if ignoring the fact that he can’t generate on the power play is ok. But here’s the thing Nylander only had 9 more points at 5 on 5 than Zach Hyman! And Nylander doesnt kill penalties or back check like Hyman. Matthews has made his linemates better at 5on5 than they actually are. Just look at Kapanen’s sudden emergence while playing with Matthews.

    If anything is driving Nylander out of town its him. He’s not worth more than Ehlers and definitely not worth any where near Pasternak. Two guys taken in the same draft. If he won’t sign for what he’s worth then let him go. I’d rather have a first, second and third round pick plus all the cap space than have Nylander on my team at 8.5 million

    • Bob Canuck

      All data was sourced from Corsica unless otherwise stated.

      For the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons in aggregate (regular season and playoffs), the data for Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Hyman are as follows:

      Player/points per 60/ NHL ranking among forwards

      5v5 (minimum 1,000 minutes)

      Matthews/2.44/7; Marner/2.07/37; Nylander/2.03/45; and Hyman/1.59/166

      Power play (minimum 300 minutes)

      Matthews/5.83/22; Marner/7.57/3; and Nylander/6.28/15

      For this two-season period, Marner’s quality of competition was in the 69th percentile; his quality of teammates was 71st. Nylander’s QOC was 77th percentile; his QOT was 90th. In other words, Nylander played with better players than Marner but faced tougher competition. This data was taken from the SKATR Comparison tool.

      Your assertion that Nylander cannot produce on the power play is false; the data as outlined shows that he ranked 15th in points per 60, which is hardly non-productive.

      Your assertion that last season, including playoffs, Nylander only scored 9 more points than Hyman at 5v5 is technically incorrect (he had 10 more). More importantly, you leave out some key facts. First, Nylander’s 47 points was tied with Matthews for the team lead. Second, Nylander had 6 more points than Marner. On a per 60 basis, Nylander’s point total was 2.32 which exceeded Marner’s output of 2.08. Among forwards with a minimum of 500 minutes, Nylander ranked 29th and Marner was 53rd. Third, the difference between Nylander’s output per 60 and Hyman’s is huge in terms of NHL ranking. Nylander was 29th and Hyman was 108th.

      I think that Marner and Nylander are both terrific players; I think the difference in overall contribution between the two is very small. The difference between my position and yours is that I celebrate both Nylander and Marner. You, for some reason, find it necessary to minimize Nylander’s value by misstating his record (power play production) and diminishing his offensive contributions through misleading comparisons to Hyman.

  • Brandon

    Yet another article saying something about the Leafs wanting Nylander to take a hometown discount. There’s no information available that says the Leafs have asked him to do so. All reports I’ve read have the Leafs offering Nylander a contract comparable to other players with his stats. What I did hear from Shanahan and Dubas is that they hope players will take a team-based view in negotiations. People have interpreted that as asking players to take a discount, but that’s not true either. Those comments can be viewed in terms of players not trying to exceed their comparables in negotiations, as it seems Nylander’s people are trying to do.

    • DukesRocks

      Bob Canuck, while I believe we should celebrate both players, it seems you are cherry picking stats to make an argument that Nylander is at par with Marner. Now, I believe stats have a place in quantifying a players skill but you should’ve mentioned Marner is a year younger and was the most dynamic player in last years playoff. For the last 2 years, Nylander had Mathews, this year Marner has JT… just on that alone I can predict Marner should be around 80 plus points. I don’t need stats to tell me what the potential output of Marner will be. Sometimes I think, you advance stats nerds “Leafs Nation writers” believe, general fans aren’t capable of telling whats whats, when it comes to the value of a player. I bet if you wanted to, you could cherry pick stats and tell me why Marner someday might be as good as Gretzky. Like I said, stats has it place in breaking down a player, but a fans eyes has more value in defining what that player could be.

  • getrdone

    It says in this peace about a lowball offer. Nowhere have I seen a lowball offer. What I have seen is an inflated self evaluation on Nylander’s part, anyone else pegs him at or about Pasternak numbers except for the Nylander camp. That is not a hometown discount, nor a lowball offer.

  • DukesRocks

    Not sure where the writer is getting lowball offer? Fact is people have been saying, he should be around 6 to 6.5 million. It Dubas is offering less then that, say 5.5, then I would say yeah, based on potential he’s being lowballed.

    On a separate note, I read some article mentioning Nylander’s fear of signing and eventually be traded next season. I don’t agree that is the case. If a contract was going to be moved to fit Marner and Mathews. It would make more sense to move Kadri and have Nylander play 3 line centre.

    • Bob Canuck

      DukesRocks,

      “… you advance stats nerds “Leafs Nation writers” believe …”.

      First, why do you have to resort to name calling? Why is it necessary to make a personal comment to someone with whom you disagree?

      Second, I do not write for Leafs Nation or any other hockey platform. I am a fan of the Leafs, or as you stated, a general fan. I just prefer to use analytics more than some in order to have enhance my understanding of the game. Others prefer to use less data in their analysis and that is fine. The important thing is that hockey can allow fans and media to approach the game from different perspectives.

      Third, I am not cherry-picking numbers. My comments were directed at Mst and were limited. Mst wrote that Nylander was unproductive on the power play; I countered with data to disprove that view. Mst also noted that Nylander only had 9 more points at 5v5 than Hyman. Mst has made that point in earlier comments and opined that Brown, Ennis, Kapanen, and Johnsson could score 9 more points at 5v5 than Hyman. The implication meaning that Nylander could be easily replaced on the Matthews line. The data shows that Nylander’s 5v5 production was 29th among forwards last season. That is top-tier and not easily replaced. I provided context regarding where Nylander’s 5v5 points stood on the Leafs and also the league as a whole. That is not cherry picking.

      Fourth, the purpose of my comments was not to provide a full-blown comparison of Nylander and Marner. I limited myself to two specific points (non-productive power play and 5v5 points). The objective of my closing paragraph was to note that I think the contributions of Marner and Nylander were very similar prior to the 2018-2019 season. I based that on the eye test and data.

      You have a different assessment of these players and also approach the analysis differently than I do. That is fine. I welcome differing perspectives and opinions.

      • DukesRocks

        Bob Canuck,
        If you think being called a nerd is name calling, you have some serious insecurities. Being called a nerd can all be a compliment “being defined as a expert in one’s field”.

        In regards to mst, he never made a comparison to Marner, you did.

        My point was choosing stats that paint Nylander at par or better than Marner, in my books is cheery picking… because, I’m pretty sure, you can find stats that can define the opposite.

        Mts point I believe was Mathews and Marner drive their lines and make people around them better. MTS is also stating Nylander isn’t anywhere deserving of the contract he’s seeking and I’m pretty sure you’d agree with that.

        As Mark Twain once said, “there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

        • Bob Canuck

          DukesRocks,

          Per Meriam Webster, name-calling is the use of offensive names especially to win an argument or to induce rejection or condemnation (as of a person or project) without objective consideration of the facts. Offensive is defined as causing displeasure or resentment (offensive remarks).

          You wrote, “If you think being called a nerd is name calling, you have some serious insecurities. Being called a nerd can all be a compliment “being defined as a expert in one’s field”.

          So, if you sincerely meant “nerd” in terms of being an expert, then thank you for the compliment. I apologize for misinterpreting your comment.

          If it was not a compliment, then “nerd” was name-calling. Whether or not it was a compliment, claiming that I have “serious insecurities” is a personal comment that has no place in a discussion. I do not feel lesser/inadequate because some people resort to name-calling or make personal comments. I just find their use to be tiresome and counter to a good debate.

          So, why did you use the word “nerd”? Was it a compliment or was it name-calling?

          On the subject of comparisons, Meriam Webster defines the word compare as “… to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences”.

          You stated, “In regards to Mst, he never made a comparison to Marner, you did.”

          Mst wrote, “More crap about how Nylander is as good as Marner. Crap! He is not! Nylander has ridden Matthews’ coattails. Without Matthews or Marner on his line Nylander has sucked!”

          Mst supported this statement by diminishing Nylander’s power play production and his 5v5 points vis-à-vis Hyman. That is a comparison. It is those specific points that I addressed.

  • Good Old Hockey Game

    I was seriously hesitant to join this conversation, but we seem to be all like minded. I’ve been watching the Leafs for the better part of 30 years. I have never been more excited for a season than the one ahead of us (let’s not bring up ’93).
    Nylander is made better by Matthews. That’s backed up by stats I’m sure the management watched closely last year while Matthews was injured. Matthews makes players around him better, Nylander does not.
    5-5.5m/6y is what I have projected from the start of the debacle, and I expect it may be lower than that.
    Refer to Kadri’s contract. 50 point season without anything near the likes of Marner and Matthews surrounding him. If he really wants to be here, he will sign what he’s offered, or take less on a bridge and prove he’s worth more. His agent and father to a lesser extent are giving him bad advice. A millionaire’s son saying he needs to take care of himself…. well, that certainly garners no sympathy from me.