May 4, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
I could write a full article per player about how great the core of this team is. None of them should be moved, at least not yet. They’re all either too valuable in terms of on-ice production or relative to their contract.
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner fall into the former category. Matthews could realistically win the Rocket, Hart Memorial Trophy, and Ted Lindsay award for his play this season. He also set the Leafs record for goals in a season, scoring 60 while playing an outstanding 200-foot game.
Marner himself was on pace for 110 points while playing elite defensively and being a valuable member of the NHL’s eighth ranked penalty kill. Even at a combined $22.543 million cap hit, they’re both worth every penny and probably more.
William Nylander and John Tavares, although struggling at points, both had consistent seasons. Nylander scored a career high 34 goals and 46 assists for 80 points in 81 games this season and backed it up with a dominant playoff performance, again.
Between his production in the regular season and playoffs, the Leafs would have a hard time finding a way to replace that at $6.9 million. Tavares is the captain and despite showing his age at times, he still produced 76 points in 79 games and he too had a dominant playoff performance. They both should be safe.
The “core four” as they’re often referred to, were nothing short of stellar in both the regular season and playoffs. The young trio of Matthews, Marner, and Nylander all set career highs in goals and points this season. None of them should go anywhere, trading any of them hurts the team more than it’s worth.