One big Toronto Maple Leafs problem this offseason has to do with William Nylander. His contract is up for an extension and negotiations are not going well. Nylander is one of the key players on the team’s roster; and, if the team wants to keep him, they’ll likely have to give him a pretty good-sized raise.

But how much will that be?

Related: What’s the Reaction to Maple Leafs Samsonov’s Arbitration Ruling?

The Numbers Got Interesting with the Hurricanes’ Signing of Aho

These contract discussions just got a lot more interesting thanks to the Carolina Hurricanes’ signing of a similar player in Sebastian Aho. The Hurricanes star just signed an eight-year contract extension at a salary-cap hit of $9.75 million.

This is a number that should set a precedent that would impact Nylander’s negotiations. In this post, I’ll suggest how that might work.

Comparing Aho’s and Nylander’s Career Stats

To better see the impact of Aho’s contract on Nylander’s negotiations, I’ll look at their career stats side by side.

Nylander has played 521 NHL games and has scored 177 goals and totalled 430 points. In 50 playoff games, he’s played well by scoring 17 goals and putting up 40 points. On the other hand, Aho has played one fewer game at 520 games and has scored 218 goals and put up 468 points. That’s 41 more goals and 38 more points than Nylander. During the postseason, Aho’s also done even better. In his 63 playoff games, he’s scored 23 goals and racked up 58 points.

The Difference Isn’t Huge, But It Is Meaningful

To review, despite playing the almost same number of games, Aho has 41 more goals and 38 more points than Nylander. That difference might not seem to be significant over seven years. However, it does not strengthen Nylander’s case that he should make $10 per season.

So, if you’re in Nylander’s camp and hoped for a more lucrative contract from the Maple Leafs, Aho’s signing is not good news. Considering their similar age and statistics, Aho’s value to his team can be argued to be on par or even higher than Nylander’s.

Now that he’s set this precedent, it seems no longer likely that Toronto will agree to a contract starting with $10 million for Nylander.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Murray, Woll, Samsonov & Aho

Now What with the Negotiation Landscape?

Previously, there were discussions about Nylander’s worth in the $10 million range. However, Aho’s signing changes the game. It now appears almost certain that Nylander won’t be signing for $10 million. It would seem as if both sides will need to re-approach the negotiations with this in the background.

In short, Aho’s recent contract extension with the Hurricanes has shifted the landscape for Nylander’s contract negotiations. As the Maple Leafs discuss Nylander’s contract, Aho’s deal suddenly becomes the critical reference point.

The two have comparable numbers. If anything, Aho’s salary should be higher because he’s a center and not a winger. Although the Maple Leafs are a better team with Nylander than without him, it would seem that – if he continues to pursue the $10 million he’s asked for – his days with the team might be numbered.

That would be too bad.

Related: Three Reasons Dylan Gambrell Is a Smart Maple Leafs’ Addition

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