Dreger: KHL ‘not where William Nylander wants to play’

William Nylander remains without an NHL contract, and one potential option for the young forward could be to try the KHL route.

Darren Dreger was on First Up Monday morning on Toronto’s TSN 1050, and was asked about “a report that has circulated” about “strong interest from a KHL team in a guy the Maple Leafs have strong interest in - maybe not $7 million strong interest, but somewhere around there - William Nylander.”

“Right, and none of this should be surprising,” began Dreger. “The KHL often will look at NHL players, particularly NHL players without contracts - and Nylander doesn’t have one of those - and of course they would have some interest. The question is does William Nylander have the type of interest whereby this is going to go anywhere.

“And I suspect - I haven’t checked into this - I suspect that there would be interest from the Swedish Elite League and other European leagues as well. But I think collectively, the KHL included, most believe that at some point Nylander and the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to find a way to come to terms. They haven’t yet, it doesn’t sound like there’s much progress being made on a day-by-day basis, but these are one of the few things that actually help the Nylander camp because this is a bit of a pressure point, even though it’s not about the money outside of the NHL. William Nylander, of course, would be a star in the Kontinental Hockey League.

“If he’s not willing to budge by December 1, then at some point Lewis Gross is going to have to consider some of that outside interest, and the KHL is a league that pays.”

As the conversation continued on 1050, it was pointed out that the KHL option at least gives Nylander “a measure of leverage” against the December 1 RFA signing deadline.

“And there would be financial leverage in that,” agreed Dreger. “It’s not that William Nylander is going to be destitute - not that he would be either way - but maybe, just maybe, it gives him a bit of comfort in having a Plan B.
“But I don’t think so. I don’t think so. It’s nice to have other leagues, rival leagues, want your services because you’re globally a very good hockey player. But that’s not where William Nylander wants to play. He wants to get fair market value in Toronto.”

Nylander is coming out of his entry-level pact with the Leafs and needs another year of service before he’ll be eligible for arbitration.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly