What If John Tavares Resigns With The Leafs?
Two years from now, it is reasonable to project the NHL salary cap to be around $95 million. That would be the projected number using a linear $4 million average annual increase.
Tavares seems a lot more likely to resign with the Leafs and stay close to home, than his former teammate, Ryan O’Reilly.
He has been a target of fans’ frustrations for his current $11 million AAV, but what if that AAV was cut in half over a shorter 2-3 year term to finish out his career?
During his twilight years, it’s realistic to expect continued offensive production since his numbers have been remarkably consistent for years.
Tavares would likely still be valuable on the power play since most of his offense comes from his work in tight spaces and not open ice.
He could fill the second-line centre or third-line centre role, depending on the development of Minten.
After Tavares’ current deal expires, the Leafs will gain money against the cap that can be used to address the defense.
Morgan Rielly would still be the anchor with help from Timothy Liljegren, plus a couple of free agents to round out the top 4.
The Leafs would have envious depth at centre with a combination of Matthews, Tavares, and Minten that would be flanked by wingers Marner, Nylander, Knies, and Cowan.
The potential ceiling of this forward depth is too enticing to pass on.
The Toronto Maple Leafs need to be patient, wait to rebuild their defense, and see it through.