Why it would be a mistake for the Maple Leafs to trade William Nylander
With all of the controversy regarding Leafs forward William Nylander and his potential departure from the team in the offseason, I will be listing why that would be a huge mistake for the Maple Leafs to let him go.
At 26 years old William Nylander still hasn't hit his prime and is already putting up superstar-level offensive production. Nylander finished the season with 80 points in 81 games, which ranks higher than the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brayden Point and Elias Pettersson. Most people would call you crazy to suggest trading any of those four guys, so why would you want to trade Nylander? Another thing, when does trading a rising star not blow up in your face? We rarely see those types of trades because of the risk involved. The Rangers sold Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for pennies because they "couldn't afford him," and now he has been over a point per game for the Blues, while the Rangers struggled to find secondary scoring until the trade deadline. Nylander already has better production than Buchnevich had before his trade, so the Leafs would be making a massive mistake to trade him.
I see the same "cap space" argument for Nylander, so my response to that is if you don't have cap space for him, then find a way to make cap space for him. You don't trade a superstar because of salary cap implications, and Nylander at just under $7M is one of the more underpaid players in the NHL. If that is the argument to trade Nylander then we can end it right there, that’s not enough. Is keeping Nylander going to prevent Ilya Mikheyev from signing an extension? Well then don't re-sign Mikheyev. That secondary offense is replaceable whereas Nylander's production isn’t. Cap space is not a viable reason to trade William Nylander at all.
If the Leafs do trade him, the value has to be really good. I don't look at Nylander mock trades too often, but some of the ones I have seen are extremely undervalued. If anything can be learned from the Pavel Buchnevich trade, never sell a rising player for cheap. Nylander is only going to get better than he is right now, so it would be a really bad look on Kyle Dubas to trade Nylander for pennies and have him end up becoming a 90-95 point player. The Hagel trade (2 1st Round Picks, Katchouk, Raddysh) is likely the start here, as Nylander is a much more established player than Hagel is. I don't think he is worth the Eichel package (Krebs, Tuch, 1st, 2nd), but that is definitely a closer comparable. I think the Leafs should be getting any team's top prospect, a middle-6 roster player and a 1st or any teams best prospect and 2 1sts, and we aren't talking about any prospect here, I’m talking about the likes of Kakko, McTavish, Turcotte. If teams don't pay up then we should gladly keep him.
At the end of the day, if the Leafs are trading William Nylander it needs to happen because it makes sense and not because they're simply looking for something to change. This is an incredibly talented hockey player with the potential to be a superstar in the league and anyone suggesting otherwise is wrong.