‘Beyond the Headlines’ is a deeper dive into some of the stories — and even some that weren’t — discussed each week on Hockey Night in Canada’s ‘Headlines’ segment.
Explaining Nylander’s lack of offer sheets
Some NHL teams have worked through it as a thought exercise. Others have crunched numbers and made phone calls and more seriously considered the possibility of extending William Nylander an offer sheet.
And yet, one month and one day after the Toronto Maple Leafs opened training camp without him, the dynamic forward remains without a contract of any kind.
Seems strange, doesn’t it?
Well, the reason why doesn’t appear to have anything to do with league-wide collusion or fear of breaking code with the Old Boys Network. It’s a mixture of math and common sense. As one astute member of another team’s front office pointed out, the answer is right there in plain sight in Article 10.4 of the CBA – the one titled "Draft Choice Compensation for Restricted Free Agents."
It reads: "The number and quality of draft choices due to the Prior Club shall be based on the average annual value of the compensation contained in the Principal Terms … of the New Club’s Offer Sheet (determined by dividing such compensation by the lesser the number of years of the Offer Sheet or five)."
The real challenge when drafting an offer sheet is finding a number and contract structure that the other team either can’t or won’t match and having both the salary and draft pick compensation land in a range you can live with as a price for acquiring the player.
This clause makes the task basically impossible with Nylander, who hasn’t wavered on his desire for a long-term deal.
Let’s say you were willing to give him Leon Draisaitl’s AAV ($8.5 million) over the maximum term allowable (seven years). The total value of that contract would come in at $59.5 million, which when divided by five would be calculated as an $11.9-million offer to the player.
Look where that falls on the NHL’s chart:
|$1,339,575 or below||None|
|Over $1,339,575 to $2,029,659||Third-round choice|
|Over $2,029,659 to $4,059,322||Second-round choice|
|Over $4,059,322 to $6,088,980||First-round and third-round choice|
|Over $6,088,980 to $8,118,641||First-round, second-round and third-round choice|
|Over $8,118,641 to $10,148,302||Two first-round choices, one second- and one third-round choice|
|Over $10,148,302||Four first-round choices|
Four first-round draft choices. Four! Even if you value Nylander highly, as many teams including the Leafs do, that’s an untenable number of non-lottery-protected picks to pay for anyone below the McDavid/Matthews/Laine stratosphere. And it would remain the compensation required if you lowered a seven-year offer to an AAV of $8 million, or even $7.5 million.
About the only way to make Toronto think long and hard would be offering a five-year deal just under the $8.118-million threshold. That contract would walk Nylander straight to unrestricted free agency and cost a first, second and a third in compensation to the Leafs.
Is anyone doing that? Evidently not.
And so the interested suitors patiently wait to see if Kyle Dubas changes his stance on keeping the skilled Swede off the table in trade discussions…
Elsewhere on the Nylander front, there have been rumblings out of Europe in the last 48 hours that Willy is thinking about Ufa – not his UFA status, not yet, but the city located some 1,200 kilometres east of Moscow – because KHL club Salavat Yulaev has expressed strong interest.
(Good luck unearthing a firm "yay" or "nay" on that potentially interesting tidbit from official sources.)
The only trouble is that Nylander can’t play a game in the KHL or anywhere else on the continent if he intends to return to the NHL this season, since that would require him to clear waivers immediately upon signing back in North America.
Even though the player’s camp has drawn a strong line in negotiations, the 22-year-old does not appear to be preparing for a full season away. He continues to wear full Leafs practice gear while going through skills and skating workouts in Stockholm.
Elliotte Friedman slipped in a silent bombshell right out of the gates on Headlines last night. The Man of Many Thoughts likes to come in low.
My eyebrows were certainly raised when he slyly mentioned that Toronto’s current push to sign Auston Matthews could see him sign a five-year extension, rather than the industry standard of eight. Ummm, excuse me?
The debate about whether a star player would be better off insisting on a shorter term for his second contract has been quietly waged among agents, NHL executives and media types in barroom’s around the continent. It hinges on the idea that he would set himself up for an even greater payday on Deal 3 while still in possession of elite production and mega leverage in a league skewing ever younger.
The only thing is we haven’t seen any young star test the theory since term limits were introduced coming out of the 2012-13 lockout. Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Aaron Ekblad and Draisaitl each opted for maximum security with life-changing money on an eight-year deal.
Matthews is on deck and could break the mould. As we’re learning, he’s increasingly comfortable doing his own thing.
Brother Nick Kypreos peeled back the first layer of an onion that could become a tear-jerker for the Columbus Blue Jackets when he reported on Headlines that two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky has already drawn trade interest.
Talk about a no-win situation for the Blue Jackets.
Bobrovsky is a pending UFA who wants Carey Price money and has so far been unwilling to discuss an extension. He is also in possession of a full no-movement clause. Plus, goalies tend not to yield much value on the trade market as it is, and Columbus is a team trying to win now.
Then there’s the fact Goalie Bob allowed all eight goals in Saturday’s 8-2 loss in Tampa – the first time he’s surrendered that many in a 397-game NHL career.
SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU’VE GOT ‘EM
Canada is set to blow the doors wide open when the Cannabis Act goes into effect on Wednesday, but there won’t be a fundamental impact on the NHL until or unless every U.S. state eventually follows suit.
No NHL team physician will be able to prescribe cannabis products for pain relief, for example, not with players frequently crossing borders into regions where it’s still prohibited. That would be illegal.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping Canadian-based players from seeking out that type of medication on their own at home. But that’s always been the case.
An unpublicized aspect of the NHL-NHLPA drug-testing program is that while recreational drugs have always been tested for, they’ve not been subject to league-imposed suspensions. In fact, the only time a positive result might prompt action of any kind is if a dangerous amount of a substance was revealed – and even then it would be handled with confidentiality under the "Substance Abuse and Behavioural Health" program.
When it comes to non-performance-enhancing drugs, the league and PA are only worried about a player’s health. That makes them more progressive than the lawmakers.
APPEAL FOR A PAYCHEQUE
With the first of two expected appeals on Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension not set to go down until Thursday in Manhattan, the Washington Capitals agitator is essentially fighting to mitigate his financial losses rather than his time out of the lineup.
By the time NHL commissioner Gary Bettman hears this appeal and rules on it, and neutral arbitrator Shyam Das hears the next appeal and rules on it, the Capitals may very well have played 20 games – just as the Calgary Flames had when Dennis Wideman’s 20-game suspension was reduced to 10 in March 2016.
However, it’s a process worth enduring for a multi-time repeat offender like Wilson.
He’s scheduled to forfeit $1,260,162.60 in salary for the devastating hit he laid on Oscar Sundqvist of the St. Louis Blues in pre-season and would recoup $63,008.13 for every potential game the suspension might be reduced.
An interesting subplot here: Wilson is only due to draw $1.1 million in salary this season after receiving a $5-million signing bonus in the summer, so he won’t receive another paycheque until 2019-20 unless the suspension is lowered.
The Montreal Canadiens still have more than a week before they need to decide if 18-year-old centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi plays his 10th NHL game and burns the first year of his entry-level contract.
But I already like the kid’s chances.
Management is conducting a game-by-game evaluation of Kotkaniemi and is extremely pleased with what they’ve seen so far. The Finn is being heavily sheltered by coach Claude Julien – he’s taken 23 faceoffs in the offensive zone, 18 faceoffs in the neutral zone and just two faceoffs in the defensive zone – but the Canadiens have been absolutely dominant in shot attempts (67.09 per cent), high-danger scoring chances (76.92 per cent) and every other metric with him on the ice at even strength, per naturalstattrick.com.
They’ve outscored opponents 2-0 in his 5-on-5 minutes as well.
For what it’s worth, Kotkaniemi recently moved out of the hotel where he’d been staying in Montreal. He’s now living in an apartment with his mother, Kati, near the Bell Centre.