John Tavares embraces Mitch Marner following a Leafs goal
Photo credit: Sportsnet

The Leafs may have no choice but to ask this star to waive his NMC

Published January 23, 2024 at 0:15
BY DEAN CHAUDHRY

If it wasn't obvious in previous seasons, but it has become a very telling and pressing issue in 2023-24. The lack of depth and talent surrounding the core members is rearing its ugly head this year and the only plausible way to get out of it would be asking one your core players to waive his NMC. A tough ask from GM Brad Treliving.

He might have lost credibility over the years, but The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons might have a point here. It's way easier said than done for a GM to approach a star player with a request to waive his no move clause at the end of his contract, but with Auston Matthews and William Nylander now locked up for 5+ seasons at much higher cap hits than their previous contracts, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be further in salary cap hell for at least one more season. If John Tavares would agree to waive his NMC, it could really help alleviate some of the financial pressure in Toronto.

The silver lining is that Tavares has 1 year remaining at his $11 million dollar cap hit - as does Mitch Marner - and while the Leafs have a lot more money to play with this summer, they also have a lot more holes to fill in their depleted lineup.

Tavares entered this season essentially being a point per game player over his last 13 years, but has struggled mightily as we've passed the mid-season mark. 34 points in 44 games would be good for a secondary option but with his cap hit, role, and usage, he should be closer to the other core members than the likes of Calle Jarnkrok and Max Domi.


Tavares has 3 goals and 5 points in his last 17 games - including a current 9-game goalless drought and 8-game pointless streak - and has just 5 goals and 15 points over his last 29 games, dating back to mid-November. The Leafs were 9-5-2 by that point and have since gone 14-9-6.

As Simmons mentioned last week, if this is the beginning of his downfall - in Year 15 - what will he look like next year and beyond?

"If this is Tavares now, who will he be in Year 16, the last year on his seven-year, $11 million AAV contract with the Leafs? And how will the Leafs be able to advance to the next level in order to become playoff-competitive if his play doesn't step up?

He has not been a dangerous player in most of this, his 15th NHL season, at a time when his linemates — either William Nylander or Mitch Marner — have been mostly productive... His lack of productivity has put the Leafs in a situation that applies not just to this season, but to next year, and any future beyond that."

Approaching him to waive his NMC would be a near fruitless effort since he's talked about his love for playing in Toronto. He is also coming to the end of the contract and one wonders if both sides want to talk extension - however what would the new cap hit look like?

"The contract hasn't worked out well for Toronto, but that's more circumstantial, and COVID- and salary cap-related than anything else. Tavares has mostly delivered at a point-a-game pace. He isn't spectacular the way Auston Matthews or Nylander can be spectacular. He isn't game-changing the way Marner can often be game-changing."

The debates have always wavered between moving on from Marner or Nylander, but with the latter extended and the former producing elite numbers, it's hard to imagine the Leafs keeping the soon-to-be 34-year-old Tavares over the younger and more electric Marner. However, you're stuck between a rock and a hard place when an $11-million dollar player isn't producing, is aging, and can't be moved unless he agrees to waive his NMC.

As you'll recall, Tavares refused to waive his NMC in his final year as a New York Islander. Do you really think he's going to waive his NMC as a life-long fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and as the team's current captain? Wishful thinking.

Source: Toronto Sun
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January 23   |   1065 answers
The Leafs may have no choice but to ask this star to waive his NMC

Should the Leafs ask captain John Tavares to waive his no movement clause?

Yes45642.8 %
No23622.2 %
Come on.. JT isn't going anywhere37335 %
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