The Maple Leafs added another potent weapon to their arsenal Saturday when winger William Nylander and the club agreed on a six-year, $45-million contract extension. The signing came mere minutes before the NHL's deadline for players to sign a contract to be eligible to play this season, but according to Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, there was never any doubt Nylander wanted to remain with the organization, and the organization wanted him to stick around.
"We've obviously been having a lot of communication with (Nylander's) camp - with William and (agent) Lewis Gross - and we had a number of discussions all day," Dubas told Hockey Night In Canada shortly after the new contract was announced. "We quickly got everything signed and into the league, so literally right down to the wire."
The 22-year-old Nylander is set to play his third full season - although he obviously missed the first quarter of the year as contract discussions unfolded - and after two consecutive years of producing at least 20 goals per season, the Swedish native is champing at the bit to get back on the ice with his Leafs teammates.
"I know he is very, very excited tonight and we are excited for him," Dubas said of Nylander, who generated a career-best 41 assists and 61 points for the Leafs last season. "It would've been a shame for him to not be in the NHL this year. He is a top young NHL player. We are excited to have him back and excited for him to get to work with our coaching staff and with our team."
In a best-case scenario, Nylander's new contract would've been completed prior to training camp in the fall, but Dubas is determined not to look back at what could've been; instead, he's pleased Nylander is back in Blue & White and adding tremendous skill and speed to a lineup that already has an impressive amount of both qualities. Nylander's new average salary cap hit of $6.9-million (that will kick in after this season's pro-rated cap hit of $10.2 million) affords the Leafs flexibility and space in the seasons ahead to ensure fellow young forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner join him and receive lengthy extensions with the team.
"In the end, we found a way," Dubas said. "We want this group to be together as long as we can possibly keep it together. We hope that all of these guys can be career Leafs, especially this young group of core players we have.
"It's an exciting group and one that has excited our fans and our city. That's our goal: to keep it together as long as we can."