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Impact of Nylander Contract on Small Market Teams

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Q's picture
December 2, 2018 at 2:35pm

Wow, the reverberations from the Nylander contract from Saturday will impact the NHL going forward.

For those (understandably) focused on the Buckeye game Saturday evening; here are the basics: Nylander signed for six years @ $6.9M, which was pretty close to the middle of what Toronto offered last summer ($6M) and the Nylander camp had asked for ($8M). Interestingly, with signing bonuses and such, there will be little financial penalty to Nylander for missing the first 1/3 of the season.

IMO this is really just the “next chapter” in the debate Josh Anderson and his agent started last year in his negotiation with the CBJ. RFAs (and their agents) want to be compensated coming off their rookie contracts based on comparable stats with UFAs, regardless of their more restrictive rights per the collective bargaining agreement.

Here are my thoughts; I would be interested in yours:

Toronto is going to have a very difficult time keeping all of their young stars under the current cap. I support players working to get as much as they can from their short careers, but in my view Maple Leaf management “blinked.” That could impact players available on the trade market or players around 30 years old that become available through buy outs. This could also impact what players like Bob might be able to attract as a 30 year old UFA as clubs think about conserving more budget for their current roster.

This RFA contract will likely impact negotiations for RFA pretty dramatically for the foreseeable future. For example, PLD and Zach at the very least just got more expensive. I suspect Jarmo & JD are in the office today thinking through how the Nylander contract impacts the CBJ. It is possible this agreement becomes an outlier, or it is the standard for only for super star 22 and 23 year olds playing in big markets.

My initial thought is this almost certainly guarantees a work stoppage in 2021. Owners aren’t going to stand by and let the cost certainty they worked so hard to achieve go out the window. Yet, this news could divide the owners, with big markets saying “we can do this if we just buy out the older guys to make room under the cap” and smaller markets getting priced out of keeping their young stars.

It will be very interesting to see where this goes over the next couple of seasons.

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