Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press
Do you hear the clock ticking? The Toronto Maple Leafs certainly do as it gets closer and closer to the end of November.
The case can be made that the Maple Leafs and hold out forward William Nylander have been both been engaging in a Major League version of “Who is Going to Blink First?”
Through November 12, neither side has blinked, but the Maple Leafs are starting to make plans to possibly trade their young star. If the 22-year-old Nylander is not under contract by December 1, he will not be eligible to play throughout the 2018-19 season.
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported on Hockey Night in Canada’s Saturday night that Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas has asked teams to “inform them who the teams and interested parties will not be willing to move, and also to begin preparing formal offers for unsigned Toronto winger.”
Friedman says he asked Dubas if that was accurate, and he declined comment.
The Maple Leafs want to keep a player who has scored 61 points in back-to-back seasons, but the Maple Leafs want to be prepared to move him if they can get an attractive offer and they can’t sign their young star.
While the Leafs are apparently making preparations to cover themselves in case they can’t get Nylander to sign a new contract, it does not look like the Columbus Blue Jackets are ready to trade high-scoring Artemi Panarin at this point in the season.
Panarin is in the final season of his contract and he will be a free agent this summer, and he has made the point that he wants to test the market.
The likelihood is that he will receive many attractive offers and he will get a chance to sign with more attractive teams than the Blue Jackets.
Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen apparently wants to wait until it gets closer to the trade deadline to move Panarin, according to Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe.
However, if Dubas trades Nylander and gets an impressive haul for him, that could change Kekalainen’s thinking. Panarin is a more explosive offensive player than Nylander, and it seems likely he could bring in more in a trade than the Toronto forward.
The longer the Blue Jackets wait before moving Panarin, the less they can get in return for him. Kekalainen knows this, and he owes his team the best possible return on their investment.