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The Roundtable

The Roundtable: Week 2

by Michael Finewax

This week’s question is:

 

If RFAs William Nylander of Toronto and Nick Ritchie of Anaheim do not sign, what would be a good trade?

 

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Michael Finewax: The longer that both players hold out, the easier it will get for their respective teams to trade them. I’m not sure what the thinking is for the agent of Ritchie as I wouldn’t say he has established himself as anything more than a regular in an NHL lineup. I think the Ducks not get a lot for Ritchie, perhaps a fourth or fifth defenseman or perhaps a bottom-six forward or the bottom forward from the top-six. I don’t see teams lining up to give away a lot for Ritchie.

 

Nylander is a different story as he has established himself as a very good point-getter with 61 points in each of his first two seasons in the NHL. No team will sign him to an offer sheet as the price is too high in draft picks if he gets what he is asking for so a sign-and-trade seems to be the only viable alternative. Arizona jumps out as they need a finisher (the Coyotes have been shut out in three of their four games thus far). Look for a possible top-two defenseman (that is Toronto’s biggest need) like a Jakob Chychrun or an Adam Larsson in Edmonton (or Darnell Nurse) to be the carrot teams will offer.

 

Ryan Dadoun: I'll qualify this by saying that I still think the Maple Leafs will sign William Nylander, but they could certainly benefit from acquiring a defenseman if they did opt to trade Nylander.  If the Maple Leafs could pry Colton Parayko away from St. Louis with Nylander as the centerpiece of the trade, then that'd be great.  Minnesota's Mathew Dumba would be another ideal trade target and the Wild might be more inclined to add a skilled forward like Nylander than the Blues are.

 

As for the Ducks, what they need most of all is to just get healthy, but of course that's not something you can get on the trade market.  The big issue here if you're going to explore trades for Ritchie, you want to sell his potential rather than his resume, but the fact that he's still a contract holdout suggests that he also wants to be paid based on that potential more than his resume so I'm not sure there's a lot of trade value to be had there.  This might be a case where, if the Ducks have to move him, their best bet would be to seek a pick and a prospect or go after another player of uncertain value.  Just throwing a name out there as an example, but maybe the Ducks would go after someone like Pavel Zacha in the hopes that Zacha and Ritchie would both see some benefit from a change of scenery.

 

Brian Rosenbaum: In a perfect world, the Maple Leafs would only move Nylander if they got a rugged young mobile defenseman who could clear the crease and provide some toughness on the team's blueline. Although I doubt the Oilers would part with Darnell Nurse, he is someone who fits that bill. A package including the Ducks' Josh Manson could also be intriguing. I don't see the Buds moving Nylander unless a defenseman is coming back, but I think the Toronto brain trust has to be careful not to be seduced by another Jake Gardner type. They need someone much more physical than that.

 

Daniel E. Dobish: Eventually it is hopeful William Nylander will get the proper representation, giving him good advice. For a guy who doesn't have a long track record, he is certainly shooting for the moon. The Maple Leafs are building a good thing, finally, after years of struggling. Management looks to have it right and they are proving to have plenty of offensive weapons to wait this thing out. Nylander is losing leverage by the day, as the team is proving they do not need him. If the Leafs finally elect to move him, they should target a young rearguard like a Matt Dumba, Darnell Nurse or Zach Werenski, but Nylander should be able to fetch more than that.

 

Ritchie has just 186 games in the NHL, and he has 26 goals and 59 points. That's not a great track record, either. There is the potential for so much more production, but a contract impasse is not making other general managers want to mortgage the farm for a player who might be viewed as a problem. GMs can go out and get someone for the now, not wish on a lottery ticket. This holdout might last longer than the Nylander situation, as he was a much larger market. If Ritchie does land somewhere, it will likely be in the Eastern Conference, as the Ducks won't want to face him frequently. How about a move to Boston for Matt Beleskey or perhaps Philadelphia for Matt Read?

 

Corey Abbott: 

Despite the lengthy contract holdouts it seems Ritchie and Nylander still have good relationships with their respective teams.  I don't know if either one of them would request a trade and I don't think either organization wants to move them.  Still, it would be very interesting if either situation approached the December 1 deadline. 

Nylander, who was drafted eighth overall in 2014, and Ritchie, who went 10th overall in 2014, would yield very different returns if they appeared on the open market.  Nylander is a flashy player with plenty of offensive skills, while Ritchie is more of a physical winger who can chip in offensively.  

Toronto could certainly use help on the back end.  A mobile defender who excels in the defensive end who can get the puck out quickly and feed the team's talented forwards with stretch passes would be ideal.  Carolina, Arizona or Anaheim would be good spots to start for Toronto.  Perhaps the Leafs can snag someone like Brett Pesce or Jakob Chychrun or Brandon Montour, but those blueliners would be hard to pry away.  The Hurricanes would probably be more willing to part with Justin Faulk.  

The trade market for Ritchie may not be as fruitful after he struggled in 2017-18, but as others have pointed out teams would be paying for his potential as a power forward.  I could see a fit with Boston, Colorado or maybe the New York Rangers for another player with untapped upside or perhaps a combination of a pick and a prospect.  
 
 

 

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 16th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.