How does William Nylander’s new deal affect the Canucks’ negotiations with Elias Pettersson?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Lachlan Irvine
6 months ago
Whenever big news drops in the NHL, national pundits always ask the exact same question: “But how does this affect the Toronto Maple Leafs?”
Today, we’re pulling an Uno reverse card and asking how a major signing in Toronto affects the Canucks.
The Maple Leafs signing William Nylander to a new eight-year $92 million extension gives the 27-year-old the richest contract in franchise history. It also gives Toronto four players with a cap hit over double digits going into next year, a first in the salary cap era.
Even with the cap expected to go up next season, Nylander’s $4 million raise is going to eat into what little space the Leafs already had for depth, and will likely force them to part with at least a few of their unrestricted free agents.
Compare that to the Canucks’ current contract situation with Elias Pettersson. While the two players aren’t direct comparables for an assortment of reasons, there is info to gather from Nylander’s deal that could give us a better idea of how Pettersson’s contract might look.
Pettersson’s camp has made it clear several times throughout the year that a contract won’t be put to paper until the season is over and the Canucks’ front office has proven they can build a winning team. Considering the team currently has 26 wins and sits first place in the Pacific Division, it’s seems like they’re well on their way to clearing one of those bars.

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That means the real sticking point could just end up being the price tag. As opposed to the Leafs, the Canucks have no players making above $8 million on the books, and a fair bit of cap space will free up at the end of the season from expiring deals.
If Nylander, as a winger, will net an average annual value of $11.5 million every year, Pettersson’s likely cap hit starts at $12 million. His overall value as the Canucks’ literal centre piece makes him a closer comparable to Auston Matthews, whose AAV will hit $13.25 million for the next four years. Nylander’s extension also includes a full no move clause that retroactively includes this season, a probable must-have for Pettersson’s camp if he’s going to commit to Vancouver for eight more years.
Pettersson also has some youth on his side, being two years younger than Nylander and one year younger than Matthews. So while Pettersson has only outscored Matthews once in his career, those extra couple years of peak output should help get him closer to the $13 million mark.
But the actual number itself barely matters. What Pettersson and Nylander have in common is being the rare star player who’s nearly impossible to overpay, even with a hard cap in place. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Pettersson will live up to that value on the ice and then some with absolute ease. And that’s without factoring in the value in tickets, merchandise and promotional opportunities they’ll bring to the team each year.
All that really matters is how you manage the space you have around them. And while the Leafs will surely have to make some difficult decisions and rely even more heavily on their core four, the Canucks are in a position to maintain their strong supporting cast around Pettersson without splitting hairs on where the commas on his cheques go.

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