If the 22-year-old didn't have his shiny new contract inked and approved by the league by 5 p.m. EST, he would've been ineligible to suit up for Toronto, or any NHL team, this season. "I wish that we were able to get this done before training camp and he was able to be a part of this". Nylander, who is expected to return to the Leafs lineup nearly right away, is receiving a pro-rated first-year salary of $6.77-million plus a $2-million signing bonus.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock indicated after his club's optional morning skate that Nylander won't necessarily need to practise before getting in a game.
He had to sign with the Maple Leafs by Saturday in order to be eligible to play this season.
He was third on the Maple Leafs behind Marner (69) and Matthews (63).
"That's a great game by us", said Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk. "He is doing what he feels is necessary and we want him back". Nylander has yet to play this season, staging a holdout after he and Toronto were unable to find common ground in the offseason.
"I've said it many times: I'm just hopeful Willie is going to be in our lineup starting whenever he gets over here and gets signed today and get it all worked out", Babcock said. The Maple Leafs are 18-18 on the year and have won their last three games. "We want him back and that's it".
"Having him back, it's just going to add more fire to this team and make us deeper", Marner said. Even though the talented Czech was selected 17 spots behind Nylander in 2014 he has taken his game to a level Nylander hasn't.
Nylander appeared in all 82 regular-season games for the Maple Leafs last season and had 61 points on 20 goals and 41 assists.
Kapanen has grabbed hold of his opportunity playing further up the lineup with 10 goals and eight assists, while fellow winger Andreas Johnsson has also benefited from Nylander's absence.
It's a massive deal for a player coming off his entry-level contract and one that puts pressure on the 2014 eighth-overall pick because he's now making more money than numerous top producers in the entire National Hockey League.