King William & The Maple Leaf Holdout

Word came out last week that two teams were very interested in trading for the rights to William Nylander, The Carolina Hurricanes and the Los Angeles Kings. Over twelve teams have expressed interest in Nylander, but the Kings and the Canes are the thirstiest.

With Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs needing to make a decision by December 1st, things are going to get crazy.

Carolina would be a fine fit for Nylander. The Hurricanes are cobbling together one hell of a young, skilled and fast team and rumours say they are ‘all in’ for Nylander. But there is just something about him heading west to Los Angeles that makes the most sense for me.

This week on the podcast, we discuss a perfect trade destination for Nylander. One that benefits both teams involved and could greatly benefit a Los Angeles Kings team that is in serious trouble.

The Los Angeles Kings are in trouble. Any team that hires Willie Desjardins after his stint as Canucks’ head coach is in trouble. As we discussed on the podcast this week, the Kings peaked many years ago. They can’t score goals (they’re last in the league in goals for), their franchise Conn Smythe winning goaltender is in a committed long-term relationship with the injured reserve, and they keep getting older. Their big offseason free agent signing was Ilya Kovalchuk and their big trade last season was for Dion Phaneuf. If this were 2008, those would be two huge pickups. But it’s 2018. The league is faster, younger, and much more skilled.

Enter William Nylander.

NylanderMatthews

William Nylander and Austin Matthews in happier times in Toronto. — Photo credit: Claus Andersen Getty Images

William Nylander is everything the Los Angeles Kings are not. He’s fast, skilled, has excellent hands and a great hockey IQ. Being lost in the shuffle behind Matthews, Marner, Marleau, and Kadri, you might forget Nylander had back to back 20+ goal seasons and put back 61 points in 82 games last season. A trade to Los Angeles would allow him to flourish with no shortage of top six minutes, which come at a serious premium on the Maple Leafs with the logjam of offensive talent they’ve got.

Pearson

Despite scoring 24 goals in 2016/17, if Pearson would likely see nothing but bottom six minutes if traded to Toronto. — Photo credit: Getty Images

We also learned this week that a package deal of left winger Tanner Pearson and defenseman Jake Muzzin had been offered to the Maple Leafs and on paper, the deal makes a lot of sense. Two players with a reasonable cap hit (Muzzin has two years remaining at $4 million AAV, and Pearson has three years remaining at $3.75 million AAV).  Two players who know how to win and survive in the playoffs (both Pearson and Muzzin were part of the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup win). And it’s very obvious in Toronto, the Leafs are in a “win now” kind of mindset, and defensive depth is a serious concern for them in the regular season and especially in their last two playoff appearances.

Muzzin

Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty   —  Photo credit: Robert Gauthie Los Angeles Times

This change of scenery move for Muzzin and Pearson could be very beneficial. Things have become incredibly stale in Los Angeles. Players seem so comfortable after those two Cup wins in 2012 and 2014. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty seem to be the only players on that roster still thriving long past those incredible championship runs. An insertion of youth and skill as well as someone hungry to win it all could do wonders for that dressing room.

Shipping out nearly $8 million in cap hit would also allow the Kings to pay William Nylander what he is worth. In case you didn’t know this, Toronto is unable to do that because they signed the hometown hero John Tavares and that really old worried looking guy from San Jose, Peppermint Patty Marleau. The Kings could easily afford a generous William Nylander contract and a lot of top six ice time, two things Toronto just can’t offer him right now.

Gone are the days of slow and plodding California hockey. The Los Angeles Kings need to move in the direction of the speedy, young San Jose Sharks. Avoid becoming as slow and old as your freeway rivals in Anaheim, acquire Nylander and breath some new life in LA!

 

Header photo credit: Getty Images

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