Just a few days on from the Toronto Maple Leafs crashing out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in spectacular fashion, and the alarm bells won’t stop ringing. Any fans that were inconsolable after the game have joined the legions baying for blood.
This is undeniably the most painful playoff exit in recent memory, possibly even in Toronto Maple Leafs history, due in large part to how this team dominated the North in the regular season.
Despite the cool, calm and reasoned responses of Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe in their end of season press conferences, a large portion of fans still want a blockbuster trade to change this team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs core four of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander and Mitch Marner has understandably faced criticism for tying up so much cap space and still failing to advance through a series. Most of that ire has been directed towards winger, and $10.9 million man, Mitch Marner.
Marner made a few costly errors (six of his seven post season penalties have been delay of game penalties) but more than that it was just another series where he was invisible. Marner is not alone however. Barring William Nylander, Jason Spezza, Jack Campbell and possibly Alex Kerfoot or TJ Brodie, the whole team disappeared.
Realistically, if the Leafs were to trade one of the four it will not be Matthews or Tavares. That leaves Nylander or Marner, and sine he has one of the best contracts in the NHL, Nylander isn’t going anywhere.
Moving Mitch Marner might be what the fans want, but it isn’t so simple. The animosity is at its highest right now, but he is still a perennial Art Ross Trophy candidate, consistently around a 90 point-per-season pace. Marner is an elite talent and has been one of the best regular season performers since he joined the league.
Fans may want to skip to the post season next year but to get to the playoffs you need to perform in the regular season. Subtracting a 90 point player is significant, especially as the likes of Boston and both Florida teams will return to the division.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs were to try and move Marner every NHL GM would be interested, even with his almost $11 million cap hit. He has the type of skill that is incredibly difficult to come by.
After an exit like this the Leafs must do their due diligence and sound out what the market for Marner looks like, even if they wont pursue a deal. Here are a few players of different styles they could look to target as part of a blockbuster deal.