Maple Leafs sign William Nylander to last-second 6-year extension

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The Maple Leafs instantly became a more hard team to play against once the 22-year-old forward signed a six-year deal worth $6.9 million annually. He would not be eligible to play in 2018-19 if he did not sign a deal by the end of Saturday.

Nylander, 22, had a deadline of Saturday midnight to agree to a contract, otherwise he would not have been able to play this season at all.

Nylander held out the Maple Leafs' first 26 games of the season as he sought a new contract.

The deal brings a prorated cap hit of $10.2 million this season, but will drop down to $6.9 million in years two through six. Nylander has added two goals and six assists in 13 playoff outings.

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But Kasperi Kapanen, one of Nylander's good friends, occupied the right side on that unit for most of the early part of the schedule until Matthews suffered a left shoulder injury on October 27 that ruled him out of action for 14 games.

Toronto, a popular pre-season pick to hoist the Stanley Cup this spring thanks in large part to its explosive offensive talent up front, has a record of 18-8-0 heading into Saturday's road game against Minnesota and was third in the overall standings. But with Auston Matthews back in the lineup after a shoulder injury and Nylander's new deal, opponents will have their hands full trying to contain them.

Matthews could be looking for something in the neighbourhood of the $12.5 million per year Edmonton superstar Connor McDavid takes home, while Marner's ballpark might land somewhere in the $10-million range of Buffalo captain Jack Eichel.

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