Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas met with restricted free agent William Nylander in Switzerland on Tuesday, but it appears contract specifics were not the topic of their sit-down.
According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, Dubas used the meeting to reassure Nylander that he's a part of the team's future despite their early success this season.
"It doesn't sound like they exchanged numbers," Dreger told First Up on TSN Radio 1050 Toronto. "So he offered something, and my belief is that he offered an assurance that the plan is not to come to terms on a contract, extend William Nylander, bring him back to North America and then trade him off.
"I think the assurance came in the form of, ‘Look, you're a big part of the future of the Toronto Maple Leafs – both the near future and long-term as well. So, let's figure this out collectively. If the long-term doesn't make sense from a numbers perspective, if you're unwilling to budge – and [Nylander] really hasn't been willing to budge to this point – then maybe let's focus on a two-to-three year bridge deal.’
"That's what we believe took place, but as I said, it doesn't sound like there were numbers exchanged."
Both Nylander and the Leafs have stated their desire to reach a long-term deal, but the winger's desire for an $8 million salary has reportedly put talks at a standstill.
The Maple Leafs, off to a 6-1 start to the season, have until Dec. 1 to sign the restricted free agent or he will be ineligible to play this year. Dreger said Wednesday's meeting was not a final effort by the Leafs to get him signed, but simply a chance for Dubas to try to sell Nylander on his future with the team.
"I don't think it's a last-ditch effort yet. I think that there's work that need to be done [and] I think this was in the plan all along," Dreger said. "Obviously, Toronto hoped that it wouldn't have to get to this point, but with the December 1 deadline looming, you've got to escalate the process here a little bit. There really hasn't been any movement – the Nylander camp hasn't budged.
"I think we have to give Kyle Dubas some credit in this. This is part of what makes him a rising star as an NHL general manager. He sat in the boardroom with John Tavares in Los Angeles when Tavares was inviting teams in and afterwards I was told point-blank by the Tavares people that Kyle Dubas was very impactful and he was impressive in that environment.
"So, get face-to-face with William Nylander, the agent isn't there. I don't believe that Michael Nylander [William's father] was there. So have this heart-to-heart with him. But at the end of the day, it's going to come down to business. But I think that the hope was that there would be some form of appeal where Nylander could genuinely see his importance in the long-term success of the Toronto Maple Leafs."
Nylander, the eighth-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, posted 20 goals and 61 points in 82 games last season. He had 22 goals and 61 points in the previous season.
With each day the contract negotiation drags on, Nylander stands to lose anywhere from $20,000-$45,000 per day off whatever he ends up signing for.
"Of course it's a lot of money, but in the end I must look to what is right for me and what me and my agent think is right," Nylander said earlier this month. "Especially if it's a multiple year thing. I have to think long term. It's my own future."
He also restated his desire to stay with the Maple Leafs during that Oct. 4 interview.