New York Rangers: Sorry, William Nylander isn’t going to happen

BOSTON, MA – APRIL 21: Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (29) warms up before Game 5 of the First Round for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 21, 2018, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 4-3. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs and restricted free agent forward William Nylander still have yet to find a resolution to their mutual contract dispute.

Pretty much every single year, at least one NHL player decides that whatever an arbitrator decided wasn’t good enough for them. This year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are three weeks into the season without one of its best players, William Nylander. The natural inclination for New York Rangers’ fans is, why isn’t the team trying to make a trade?

However, these aren’t your father’s Rangers. The team is taking an honest stab at developing a team through natural development cycles. I understand the allure of Nylander, the former number eight overall pick has everything a team could want in an elite player. The forward has registered 135 points in 185 NHL games and played second fiddle to Auston Matthews his entire career.

The Rangers have had every opportunity to pursue Nylander this entire summer with the rest of the league. It was well known that the Maple Leafs were going to face a cap crunch following the team’s signing of center John Tavares. The former captain of the New York Islanders commanded a heavy cap hit and was a totally necessary signing.

The Maple Leafs were in a similar situation to the Rangers several years ago. The team struggled for several years and had a series of top ten picks. The Leafs drafted Matthews, Nylander, Mitch Marner and Morgan Riley all within that range. It’s arguable that the organization along with the Edmonton Oilers brought the tanking strategy to the league.

Why it won’t happen

Simply put, it does not make sense for the Rangers to totally abandon the rebuild less than seven months into it. The team’s front office announced that it was going to do things the right way. That means grinding it out during the ugly parts and trading away signature players.

If the front office was going to make a half-baked attempt at rebuilding, it likely would have kept Ryan McDonagh in the fold and extended him. The former Ranger captain still had a year left on his contract and likely will have another few years of peak play. This decision had a ripple effect that crippled the entire defense.

If New York was going to take a stab at a player like Nylander, it would have during the summer. The team had plenty of expendable assets and still do. Toronto is a playoff team that needs roster players to try and compete with the best in the league right now.

The organization would have to part with a player like Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes or Mats Zuccarello with more on top. That just would not make sense for the Rangers based on where the franchise is right now. Adding Nylander to the mix would not fit the timetable for the rest of the team’s prospects.

Even though the Swede is only 22 years old, it would force the Rangers to pay a marquee price too early. There isn’t a world in which the Leafs’ front office would consider moving Nylander because of where their organization as a whole is. Nylander is an elite player and it just makes no sense to take two quarters in exchange for a dollar.

No matter who New York was to trade up to the great white north, their impact would pale in comparison to Nylander. It would take a massive three or four for one trade to even begin to enter the scope of possibility.

This is just pipe dream speculation from a deprived fan base. This is the front office that gave a roster spot to Brett Howden because it was so concerned about player development. Making a win now move at a time in which winning isn’t really the goal seems counter-intuitive.

Sure, it’d be nice if it were to happen, but don’t go banking on a Nylander trade.