Sabres’ Nylander talks brother’s contract stalemate with Maple Leafs

NHL insider Doug MacLean joins the Jeff Blair Show, and just doesn't get why the Maple Leafs and William Nylander haven't signed a contract yet, especially when he's a projected top line, 75-point type guy.

TORONTO – Alexander Nylander says his brother William is doing “good” while waiting for a new contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Buffalo Sabres prospect has kept in touch with his older sibling since returning to North America at the start of September but doesn’t know much about the current state of his contract talks.

“He wants to be here, obviously, he wants to play,” Nylander said after Friday’s 5-3 pre-season loss in Toronto. “That’s the way it is right now and I just hope everything goes well with him and good stuff will happen.”

William Nylander is skating back home in Sweden. He’s missed the first nine days of Maple Leafs training camp because of the contract stalemate and has kept a low profile during his absence – save for an Instagram post earlier this week touting a new apparel deal with Reebok.

The next pressure point in negotiations won’t arrive until just before Toronto’s Oct. 3 season opener against Montreal, when Nylander would officially start losing pay if he remained unsigned.

Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas continues to project confidence when asked about negotiations. Earlier this week, he told Sportsnet that “it’s our full intention that all these young guys are here for a long time and the impediment right now is we’re trying to go through a process with them, with [agent] Lewis Gross and William Nylander and their camp and we’ll continue to work away at it.”

Nylander is coming off consecutive 61-point seasons and is the first of the Leafs young stars in need of a second NHL deal. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will each see their entry-level contracts expire next summer.

Should he sign a long-term deal rather than a bridge contract, he’s likely to receive somewhere in the neighbourhood of $6-million to $6.4-million – falling in a similar range to what Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers and Calgary’s Sean Monahan received coming out of entry level.

Alexander, meanwhile, is looking to make his first big breakthrough in Buffalo. A No. 8 overall pick just like William, he was slowed by a nagging groin injury last fall but is feeling healthy now and earning praise in training camp.

“I’m obviously here focusing on trying to make a spot here,” he said. “I mean I know I can do it with the way I can play. I feel really good coming into the season – obviously last season I missed the training camp and everything – so I’m just trying to play my best every game and improve.”

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