November 30, 2018 6:00 am

Rick Zamperin: Mike Babcock saying all the right things as William Nylander deadline looms

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, left, and general manager Kyle Dubas have a 5 p.m. deadline on Saturday, Dec. 1 to sign restricted free agent William Nylander.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett
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What did we expect Mike Babcock to say?

The Toronto Maple Leafs head coach again addressed the media Thursday about the upcoming deadline to sign restricted free agent forward William Nylander.

That deadline is Saturday at 5 p.m. and if the 22-year-old Swede doesn’t sign a contract prior to that, he will not be eligible to play in the National Hockey League this season.

READ MORE: Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews returns to the ice scoring 2 to help down San Jose Sharks

“I’ll tell you again, this is what I think, and it’s just what I think,” said Babcock. “[Leafs General Manager] Kyle [Dubas] and I talk about this every day so I’m up to date on what’s going on. There’s lot’s of opinion out there. Let’s not confuse opinion and facts. We think Willy is going to be here. We think Willy is going to be here for a long time. We think he’s going to be a career Leaf.”

Just last week, the Leafs bench boss said, “Willy loves hockey. I know Willy good. He’s a great teammate and a good person and he loves hockey. He wants to play hockey.”

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Babcock clearly wants Nylander to remain in Toronto long-term and isn’t going to jeopardize the contract negotiations by deflecting or ignoring questions from reporters or spouting off about why one of the team’s star players hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet.

Babcock has been around this block a few times during his career, and knows that what he says could have an impact on the Nylander talks.

Any negative commentary could also come back to haunt him next year when GM Kyle Dubas attempts to sign Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to long-term mega deals.

READ MORE: William Nylander contract talks likely to go down to the wire, says Rick Zamperin

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