The hockey community has been abuzz recently with the William Nylander rumors and ultimately with his decision to stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hockey fans including New Jersey Devils fans are concerned that players holding out might be even more frequent.
The 6 year, $41.77 million contract to stay with the Leafs was made public minutes before Saturday’s deadline that would determine his eligibility for this season.
The decision to keep Nylander in Toronto is a good one for both Nylander and Toronto. He is one of the most talented young forwards in the NHL and Toronto has its eyes on winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1967.
How This Impacts New Jersey (NJ)
Cut to Will Butcher in New Jersey. His freshman year in NJ was a great one, garnering him 37 votes in the Calder Trophy race. In 81 games played, Butcher registered 5 goals, 39 assists, 23 power play points, 16:04 average time on ice and a 53.9 corsi-for percentage.
So far this year, his most notable role is quarterbacking the power play for the Devils, which has not been able to generate anything worth mentioning. After leaving the game on October 16th against the Dallas Stars, he has not looked like the same player.
It may be premature to call this a “sophomore slump” for Butcher, but top analysts aren’t ruling it out. NJ wants to keep a young talent like Butcher in the organization for a long time as he serves as a source of hope for the franchise despite being a healthy scratch on Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. However, it is unknown if NJ will be willing to pay the price if his play doesn’t improve.
With top players, Taylor Hall, Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier on the top of NJ’s list to re-sign, Butcher needs to prove himself to NJ. He has the potential to become a top, key player but not right now. There is still a lot of hockey to play this season and a lot of time for Butcher to cement his place with NJ. Perhaps it will come down to the final hour with negotiations for Butcher and his future with NJ, only time will tell.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com