If William Nylander signs, he sets Matthew Tkachuk’s contract floor

By 3 p.m. Calgary time on Saturday, William Nylander will either sign a contract for the 2018-19 season or sit out for the rest of the campaign. If he does sign (with the Toronto Maple Leafs or somebody else), his deal will provide a good ballpark for what to expect when Matthew Tkachuk becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, 2019. But for a few reasons, Tkachuk will probably get a heftier deal.

Tkachuk will have played more NHL games on his first deal

Nylander’s played parts of four North American pro seasons, splitting the 2014-15 season (his contractual 19-year-old “slide year”) between the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and the SHL’s MODO Hockey. He split the 2015-16 season between the Marlies and Leafs – not accumulating enough NHL experience to count as a “year of service” for the purpose of unrestricted free agency – and then spent 2016-17 and 2017-18 as a full-time NHLer.

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Tkachuk went directly to the Flames and has stayed there ever since. As of Saturday night’s game, Tkachuk had played 170 NHL games and since Nylander only made 185 appearances for the Leafs on his entry-level contract, Tkachuk will definitely have more NHL skates to his credit when his deal expires.

Tkachuk has slightly better point production

Nylander has 135 points in 185 NHL games, for a 0.729 points-per-game pace. Tkachuk has 126 points in 170 NHL games, for a 0.741 points-per-game pace.

That said, Tkachuk is more reliant on special teams time for his production. Nylander has a higher proportion of his points at even strength than Tkachuk – 69.6% versus Tkachuk’s 68.3% – though their even strength points-per-game are extremely similar – 0.508 for Nylander, 0.506 for Tkachuk.

Tkachuk has slightly better goal production

Nylander has 48 goals in 185 NHL games, for a 0.259 goals-per-game pace. Tkachuk has 49 goals in 170 NHL games, for a 0.288 goals-per-game pace.

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Nylander scores a higher proportion of his goals at even strength than Tkachuk – 68.8% versus 65.3% for Tkachuk – but Tkachuk scores at even strength at a high per-game rate – 0.188 versus Nylander’s 0.178.

Tkachuk arguably drives play more

Tkachuk has a higher Corsi For percentage than Nylander – 57.0% versus Nylander’s 52.6% – and a higher Relative Corsi percentage than Nylander – +6.5% versus Nylander’s +1.9%.

We can debate what those numbers precisely mean, but functionally what it means is that Tkachuk’s line has the puck more often than Nylander’s line (and more often relative to the other lines on both of their teams in that span).

Both players have had help

Tkachuk’s most frequent even strength linemates during his entry level years have been Selke candidate Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Norris contender Mark Giordano, and some combination of TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton. You can argue that it’s easy to look good when you’re surrounded by good players.

But Nylander has also played with some pretty good players. His most frequent even strength linemates are Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly. The depth of the Leafs during Nylander’s time has also been a plus for him, as it has allowed them to use him further down in the line rotations than the Flames have been able to use Tkachuk.

Tkachuk has had more challenging deployments

Playing with Backlund and Giordano has its downsides. Among Tkachuk’s most frequent forward opponents at even strength: Ryan Getzlaf, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Joe Pavelski, Anze Kopitar and Sidney Crosby. He’s started 43.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone.

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Among Nylander’s most frequent even strength opponents: Sam Reinhart, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Frans Nielsen, Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Jakub Voracek. He’s started 52.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone.

Tkachuk has a good case for higher compensation

When you compare their roles, situations and performances during their entry level years, both Nylander and Tkachuk are very impressive young players.

But there are several small reasons why Tkachuk is arguably more important to the Flames’ success than Nylander is to the Leafs’. So whatever cap hit Nylander produces on his new deal, expect that to be the basis for Tkachuk’s camp to ask general manager Brad Treliving to give him a little bit more.

  • Sea of Redd

    Hope Nylander doesn’t get signed. Only way he’s getting the 9mil he was asking for is if the leafs fire Dubas and hire Chiarelli. I think 7mil is still too much for Nylander.

    But yes, Tkachuk should get more than Nylander.

  • Burnward

    I’m so excited for this to get settled quietly with a fair contract.

    As is BT tradition. (Gaudreau was a little testy, but ol BT proved his Balzac as a new GM. Impressed with Dubas.)

  • Willi P

    If not for Peter Chiarelli signing McDavid first and then giving away the farm to Leon, Toronto wouldn’t be in this mess.

    PC should have signed Leon first since he was an RFA. He had a full year before needing to sign McDavid. Makes no sense. Probably would have saved him 3-4 million on the combined contracts.

    Good on Toronto (can’t believe I said that) for trying to reset RFA values. Hope they hold firm and somewhat fix the mess that the PC created. This should help the Flames with the Tkachuk contract.

  • oilcanboyd

    What happens in Toronto should stay in Toronto… Getting tired of this public soap opera (which is endlessly generated mostly by Toronto media). Nylander getting EI payments from the NHLPA to sit out. Who else could forego 7 million dollars for principle? Getting compensation, that is how.

    • Mickey O'Reaves

      Exactly! LMAO, it is even tough to come up with how Treliving will pitch how young Matthew Tkachuk needs to improve on things, so he doesn’t earn a massive contract.

      Brad Treliving: “Um, yeah, but his skating isn’t that great. Plus those suspensions and injuries really add up!”
      Byng’s Agent: “Oh, you were finished? Oh well allow me to retort.”

    • Redleader

      I agree by TKACHUK s 4rth nhl game I said he would be in the Hall of Fame and hopefully the Hall of Flame as he was the most impressive Flames rookie I’ve ever seen by far ! ,

      • Mickey O'Reaves

        Matthew Tkachuk loves hockey so much, he’ll get into coaching or management many years down the road as well. His feel and IQ for the game is off the charts.

        • Hockeysense9393

          I don’t know…Nieuwendyk was quite impressive his first couple/few years. in my eyes, he would be the most impressive rookie the Flames ever had. Loob and Tkachuk fighting for second…

      • Albertabeef

        You must be pretty young because I could think of one or two Flames rookies with pretty awesomely impressive seasons. Joe’s Calder trophy season for one. The Golden Brett was so great we were able to trade him for cup winning pieces. Theo with 34 points in first 36 games. Could even throw in Suter and his Calder trophy season. Could throw a shout out to Iggy and Phanuef’s rookie seasons. Gee and Mony and Johnny and decent rookie seasons too. Tkackuk is pretty up there though.

        • Hockeysense9393

          I still think that Nieuwy had the best all out career of any Flame in history. Loob has always been connected with the organization and works for them today. Can’t forget Vernon or what Robert’s has contributed to hockey as a whole. Gio probably the best leader in Flames history. Lanny and Iggy know where their hearts are. I think Tkachuk could be a combination of everything to this team. It will be fun to watch his career enfold front and center.

        • Hockeysense9393

          Brett only had (almost) a .50 Goals/per game when he was a Flame (26G/52GP) his 1st real year. It’s hard to assess a player when they are out of shape lmao. It was a savvy “depth” trade at the time…but wow? He had over 40 goals the next season, and we knew how he turned out after that. This turned out to be one of the Flames worst trades in history, but was masked by a cup win the following year. It’s funny how no one talks about how bad that trade was for the Flames.

  • The GREAT WW

    If CHIARELLI was half competent he would have Byng and Barzal on McDavids wings and a second line with Drisaddle Hall and Eberle.

    Long live CHIARELLI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Off the wall

    The good- Lindholm’s $4.85 M x6 year per season looks like a steal.

    The bad- ( Cap hit)
    Tkachuk’s value to this team is going to break the internal cap of $6.75M, regardless whether Nylander signs

    The ugly- Neal’s $5.75M x 5 years.

    Trade and draft. That’s what Treliving is good at. Otherwise, UFA signings are like Poker Stars…and we all know Treliving doesn’t always play his hand right.

  • Hockeysense9393

    I’m torn on this actually… On one hand, MT is becoming the NEW NHL dream player? He presents every asset complimentary in todays NHL and is becoming one of the most complete players in the game today.
    he would be worth a mint to any team in the league. This signing could very well define what Treviling is all about. The saving grace with Tkachuk is him being somewhat a throwback in mentality as well? Where some greats truly do put their team before all else? This is what we all hope for when it comes down to it, in the middle of the summer when nothing is going on. Tkachuk takes a home town discount south of 7 Mil for the next 5-6 years. knowing one…that he is that good to cash in huge after this contract. two…that he sets an example for the team as a whole. Kind of like Nashville in a way? Helping with the overall culture when it comes to building a good team. Having faith in your GM as well.

    This season and next summer will truly dictate who this team really is, in the scheme of things.
    I for one am pretty happy with how this team is progressing. We have a constant reminder of how bad it could be, just a couple/few hours north.

    No doubt he is worth the numbers the are starting to circulate threw hockey media. I still have faith that he is the type that thinks beyond that. This summer should be fun…

  • Flamesforever

    Our future is very bright, the elite talent we have up front (Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Lindholm, Monahan) coupled with our up and coming forwards (Jankowski, Dube, Bennet) and our young promising depth on D (Hanifin, Valimaki, Andersson, Kylington) has me so pumped! Expect a cup in the next 5 years Flames fans! GFG ?

  • Thunder1

    Shill and Ras r gonna’ be a top four pair minimum for a decade going forward. Jusso looks to be better than both. Gio is a stud, Hanny’s going to play a thousand games in Flames silks, Brode’s been to the resurrection party and Hammy’s so ugly no one’s gonna’ take ‘em even at the deadline… Flames ? defence is looking kind of good going forward hey?

    • Thunder1

      Yeah well… we got Larsson and the Kleffbomb, Russell and Sexera when he gets his prosthetic fixed, Darnell swears he won’t beat up the Nazi anymore and The only reason Bouchy ain’t here is ‘cuz our old coach was a psycho, counters mental ‘el cid!

      • El Cid

        Oops dare go da cookies, Treliving better be all in again this year because this is the last chance! flames just don’t have the goaltentending,defence or sober fowards to pull out a playoff spot this year.

  • BendingCorners

    Nylander’s new contract has a cap hit around 6.9MM per year, after all the bonuses and the pro-rating for the late start are taken into account. Works out to about 115,000 per point. If his point totals go up, it ends up being a good deal for Toronto.
    If Tkachuk gets 70 points this year, that puts him in the 8MM per year range on an equivalent contract. Sounds about right.
    Should BT trade Gaudreau for Brady Tkachuk to save cap space? He’s scoring a point per game in Ottawa as a rookie.
    Gaudreau and Neal for Brady Tkachuk and Mark Stone? That would be a frightening top six.

    • El Cid

      I think that is a Treliving deal! Except Cokey is damaged goods but if he throws in the first round pick (if he has any left) maybe and an overpriced Hamonic.

      • Mitchell

        You have far too much time on your hands el cid, and quite frankly it’s sad that you resort to trolling. Perhaps you could actually contribute a realistic perspective to the conversation, and have a cordial dialogue with some of our members. I’m sure they would be pleased to talk hockey with you; rather than the nonsense that you’re spewing.