William Nylander cashes two goals, nears new contract in Maple Leafs win

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It wasn’t quite a California golden goal rush for the Maple Leafs, but the trip was profitable for points, while William Nylander could be set to cash in on a new contract when they get home.

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As Toronto downed the San Jose Sharks to sweep the state’s three teams for the third time in five years, club points leader Nylander added his 20th and 21st goals to a team best 54 points in Saturday’s 4-1 victory.

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Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported during the match that Nylander’s camp and general manager Brad Treliving are nearing agreement on an eight-year deal around an average annual value of $11.5 million US which could be announced early next week when the club comes home.

The term and dollar figure would put the 27-year-old first round pick in 2014 among the NHL’s best paid players and second on the team’s salary chart to Auston Matthews next season.

The Leafs would want to get this long-discussed deal done before it distracts from the All-Star Game that is three weeks away with Nylander possibly voted in by fans to join league selection Matthews.

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As far as the swing went, the Leafs beat Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose by a combined 9-2.

Nylander, who scored off the rush inside the post and from behind the net, also assisted on Mitch Marner’s first period goal. Calle Jarnkrok added his second goal on the trip, while Martin Jones faced 24 shots in his old home at the SAP Center.

Jones, in his solid fourth consecutive start, benefitted from some wonky accuracy from wide open Sharks before Toronto out-shot them 18-3 in the first period, after getting the same amount on Lukas Dostal in Anaheim on Thursday. The Leafs also rang three posts – and took a 1-0 lead.

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On just the Leafs’ second 5-on-3 of the season,  Marner found the short side on Mackenzie Blackwood, his 40th career power-play goal. Morgan Rielly’s primary assist was his 30th overall this year.

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The Sharks, who broke Jones’s shutout bid with eight minutes to go via Mikael Granlund, came into the match trying to break their second 10-game losing streak of the season.

Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe made no lineup changes from Wednesday, which included Pontus Holmberg staying on the third line with Jarnkrok and Max Domi, whose hustle to negate an icing set the stage for Jarnkrok’s 10th.

The Leafs have a back-to-back versus San Jose Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena, which never happened, even when both were in the Western Conference in the 1990s. The injured Logan Couture, long a thorn in the Leafs side, could be back from injury.

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Jones, who ranks second in Sharks career wins to Evgeni Nabokov, made 23 saves and could be ready to go again next week, as Keefe assesses where Ilya Samsonov is at versus looking at Dennis Hildeby for his first NHL start.

Winger Noah Gregor made his return after not being offered a qualifying contract offer by the Sharks and taking the long way back to the NHL via a PTO with Toronto at training camp.

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