Insider pitches a way for the Maple Leafs to move on from John Tavares

Dean Chaudhry
June 10, 2024  (7:24 PM)

John Tavares
Photo credit: NHL

While the trade conversations generally gravitate towards Mitch Marner, is it at all possible for the Toronto Maple Leafs to move on from John Tavares instead?

The "Core 4" as they have been dubbed for quite some time now, have run their course in Toronto after yet another failed post-season run that ended in the first round for the 7th time in the last 8 seasons.
All 4 players are highly skilled, extremely valuable, and would improve any team should they ever get their hands on them but the Leafs cannot run it back again regardless of skill and value.
The Maple Leafs effectively let the world know that Auston Matthews and William Nylander are untouchable with their recent contract extensions being set in stone. While they were first in line for extensions over Tavares and Marner, it's also very hard to believe they would choose the latter two over the former two.
Marner holds more gravitas on the trade front than Tavares for a variety of reasons. For starters, Marner is 7 years younger and has three 90-point seasons under his belt since 2018-19 with his career-high being 99 points in 72 games during the 2021-22 season. Tavares is the wily veteran of the bunch and has over 1,100 games under his belt with 1,040 points but he has never topped more than 88 points over his 15-year career.
Coming in at an 11 million dollar cap hit, it makes you wonder if anyone would be willing to take him on for the final year of his contract. The same issues that apply to Marner will apply to Tavares as the full NMC is the biggest backbreaker but Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman wonder if a team like Utah can entice the captain to join their new club:
Jeff Marek: "I had a conversation with someone who wondered about a team like Utah and here's why, Utah has a lot of young players, Logan Cooley is an obvious one, Utah is most likely in the business for veteran players on short-term deals and the theory is that they could offer Tavares a pretty healthy number on a 2-yr contract as a why to entice him to waive a no-trade, would that make sense to you?"
Elliotte Friedman: "Everything can always be made to make sense to me but I am under the impression that Tavares is going to play in Toronto next year"
The premise is rather simple. Utah can give him what Toronto can't - or at least what Toronto shouldn't.
The Maple Leafs will not be able to bring him back into the fold for the money that he might command. There's always the possibility that he could take money off the table to stay but he's still a point-per-game player, plays the all-important centre position, and can pot 30+ goals in any given season and that would generally command around 8 million - on top of the fact that the cap is rising exponentially.
Utah wants to make a splash, they have a very young team with very few veterans, and they have a lot of cap space which would allow them to take on a high-priced contract for the short-term. A 2-year deal would still allow Tavares to chase one final contract at a healthy AAV if he can continue to produce as he has over his 15-year career.
On the surface, it's more of a pipe dream than a reality but if the Maple Leafs could find a way to move on from Tavares' final year and get something valuable in return, they would be chomping at the bits. However for now, it seems like he'll most likely remain on the team.
In 1,109 career NHL games, Tavares has produced 456 goals and 1,040 points, split between the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tavares' stats courtesy of Hockey DB
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Insider pitches a way for the Maple Leafs to move on from John Tavares

Would you rather move John Tavares or Mitch Marner?

John Tavares23451.8 %
Mitch Marner10623.5 %
Both if you can11224.8 %
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