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NHL on NBCSN: Maple Leafs visit Sabres as they await Nylander’s return

The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will take their skates outside to historic Notre Dame Stadium in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

William Nylander is signed, but won’t be in the lineup as the Maple Leafs visit the Sabres Tuesday night. It’s unclear if he’ll play Thursday when Toronto is back home against Detroit, but he now has a six-year contract so his availability is pretty clear for the long-term.

He won’t be going anywhere despite some thought that because his extension looks pretty tradeable after next season. According to Nylander, general manager Kyle Dubas has assured him he won’t be moved under his watch.

“Kyle has told me multiple times that as long as he is here, he is not going to trade me and from what I saw that [Mike] Babcock said that I was going to be here a long time, I’m not really too worried about that,” he said while meeting the media on Monday.

Nylander will be paid $21M of the $45M owed to him by the end of the 2019-20 NHL season. His cap hit will remain $6,962,366M, but he’ll only be paid $6M in salary a season in each of the final four years. He also wasn’t eligible for a no-trade clause until the last year of the contract, which is 2023-24 and is a 10-team no-trade list.

"[Nylander’s] contributions that you’ve seen year in and year out, the effect that Mike Babcock, Jim Hiller and D.J. Smith have on him, he continues to grow as a player, not just as a producer of points which we know he can do but continues to get better and better,” Dubas said. “I have faith knowing him and his intelligence level, his dedication to his craft that he’s going to continue to improve. That’s not the type of person that we want to see walk out of here.”

As the Leafs welcome back Nylander, they face the Sabres in a battle between the two of the top teams in the Atlantic Division.

After a 2-1 defeat to the Western Conference-leading Nashville Predators Monday night, the Sabres have now lost three straight games all by one goal. But Buffalo has had a lengthy streak of playing well against solid competition. During their 10-game winning streak, they defeated Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and San Jose.

The Maple Leafs will have to find a way to slow down red-hot Jeff Skinner, who has six goals in his last seven games. The pending UFA leads the Sabres in goals with 20 and his tied for second overall in the NHL with Brayden Point. He had just 24 goals all last season with Carolina and played in all 82 games.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.