Can the Toronto Maple Leafs Trade John Tavares?

There are ways for the Toronto Maple Leafs can get out from under the Tavares $11M cap hit
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs season has come to an end and with all the focus on a new coach, as well as a potential trade of Mitch Marner to split up the "Core Four", one has to wonder, is there an opportunity for the team to move captain John Tavares instead?

Gone are the days where you could send a hefty contract to the Arizona Coyotes, but there are other options for the Toronto Maple Leafs to move on from their 29-goal center and without retaining any his cap hit.

Tavares just finished his sixth season witht he club after signing a seven year deal in the summer of 2018 which means he has one-year left carrying a cap hit of $11 Million. Come July 1, Tavares will be owed a signing bonus of $7.04 Million (per CapFriendly) which leaves a salary of just $910,000.

In previous seasons the Coyotes would be all in to take this type of contract from a team which had minimum salary and a large cap hit, however with them relocating to Utah and for an owner who is eligibly wanting to spend money that is no longer the case. Add in that Tavares has a full no movement clause it would be unlikely that the 15-year veteran would want to go to a non contender.

Management needs to sit down with their captain's camp and find out what his plans are for the future. If he was willing to take an extension in the $2-$3M range while also handing over the captaincy, I would not be opposed to reupping him instead of trading him. However, if that is not an option, it would be time for both sides to mutually decide how to move on.

A contending team would not be able to be willing to take on the $11 Million cap hit, but what about obtaining a veteran forward that could score 25-goals at a cap hit of say $5.5 Million?

Can the Toronto Maple Leafs Trade John Tavares?

Two teams that jump out are the Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings.

Both are aging, but still contending and have some contracts coming off their books this upcoming summer. The Dallas Stars have soon to be 40-year old Joe Pavelski and his $3.5 Million cap hit leaving, along with Matt Duchene's $3 Million contract.

Tavares could come into the Stars organization and fill a similar role that those two players handled. There is a chance that Pavelski returns for one more year, but would likely come in much cheaper and give the team more options.

The Los Angeles Kings will likely look to do anything they can to get out from under Pierre-Luc Dubois this summer and if they do so, Tavares could give some sort of replacement.

However, even if Dubois is not dealt, Tavares could easily move to the wing on a team that is already deep down the middle. When it comes to cap space, Anze Kopitar took a $3 Million reduction in his new contract that starts this summer and Viktor Arvidsson's $4.25 Million contract expires.

Once you found the location where the Maple Leafs captain would be willing to go to, Brad Treliving would need to find a third team willing to retain 50% of the Tavares contract. A team like the San Jose Sharks who are in full rebuild could add the $5.5 Million cap hit and obtain a couple of draft picks.

Trade Offer:
To Toronto Maple Leafs: Conditional Pick (from SJS)

To Los Angeles Kings or Dallas Stars: John Tavares ($5.5 Million Cap Hit)

To San Jose Sharks: 2nd Round Pick (LAK or DAL) and 7th Round Pick (TOR)

The team acquiring Tavares is getting a veteran who will score 25-goals for under a million of actual salary for a second round pick. The San Jose Sharks obtain a pair of draft picks for picking up a dead cap hit, while the Maple Leafs get $11 Million in cap space while only losing a late draft pick.


If Tavares is dealt, the team could potentially look at keeping Marner as the focus is on the leadership change and look to extend the former London Knight.