In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs Quick Hits, I’ll take a quick look at a number of news items that are coming from the team.
Quick Hit One: Matthews, Nylander, and Then Marner
Now that the team has signed Auston Matthews to a contract extension, the next player on the list is William Nylander. However, while he seems to be resistant to the team’s numbers on the bottom line, at least things are quiet. However, there’s speculation that Mitch Marner’s next contract will be noisy and difficult.
The last time Marner signed a contract there was a lot of posturing and positioning. Not fun at all. You have to wonder what Maple Leafs fans’ reactions might be next offseason. It could be interesting. Even Elliotte Friedman, who seems to have seen everything, seems to be a bit tongue-in-cheek about how Marner’s agent will react to the impact of Matthews’ contract extension on Marner’s agent’s demands.
In Friedman’s recent 32 Thoughts podcast specifically focused on Marner, he wondered aloud, “What is Marner’s next number? Because he was the closest one to Matthews. When Matthews signed for $11.634 AAV all of a sudden Marner became close to an $11 million player, so now Matthews’ number is 13.25. What’s Marner’s number? Is it 13.249999?”
Quick Hit Two: Can Matthews Knies Win the Calder Trophy?
Matthew Knies is a 20-year-old forward for the Maple Leafs. One thing that was apparent about him was his transition from US college hockey to the NHL wasn’t as tough as many expected. In his three NHL games and seven playoff games, no one could fault his performance. He was good and always around the positive action – especially game-winning goals.
The oddsmakers sure didn’t miss it. When the betting odds came out, Knies was ranked near the top half-dozen rookies to have a chance to win the Calder Memorial Trophy. Obviously, Connor Bedard was the favourite.
Here’s the list of 2023-24 Calder Memorial Trophy odds:
- Connor Bedard: -143
- Luke Hughes: +550
- Logan Cooley: +900
- Devon Levi: +1200
- Adam Fantilli: +1400
- Shane Wright: +1900
- Matthew Knies: +1900
Quick Hit Three: In His Own Mind, William Nylander Is Going Nowhere
Regardless of whether William Nylander’s contract gets extended this offseason or not, it’s clear that he is fully committed to staying with the Maple Leafs. And, after his impressive performance during the 2022-23 season, there should be no question the team will want to (and I believe they will) work to re-sign him.
For me, any discussion of a trade involving Nylander is silly. There’s going to be some impact on Nylander’s negotiations after Auston Matthews’ contract extension. But, they are two different kettles of fish. It might be that Nyander would be ready to sign a much longer – eight years instead of four – with the Maple Leafs. Can anyone else see a situation where Matthews leaves after his next contract and Marner is the only Core Four member remaining on the team?
Quick Hit Four: The Future of Sheldon Keefe?
There’s been a lot of discussion about signing Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe to a contract extension. However, there’s been no action. That’s a bit surprising given the positive vibes fans get every time Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving speaks about Keefe to the public.
So, what’s the deal? Keefe has been lauded recently (all offseason really) by Treliving. His coaching record is the best in Maple Leafs history percentage-wise. He’s been spoken of as a finalist for the 2024 Jack Adams Award. The situation is curious, to say the least.
Is there a chance that Keefe might be the one holding up the extension?