When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed John Tavares on July 1, 2018 to a seven-year contract worth $77 Million many people said that backend of those years were going to hurt and we are now there.
I've heard some fans talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs looking at a buyout this off-season and I also read an article about potentially asking him to waive his no-trade clause. I can say with almost certainty that neither of these circumstances will play out.
To get the first thing cleared up, the way that the Tavares' contract was structed it is was done so that it would make no sense go this route. At the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, the former Oshawa General will have one year left on his deal with an $11 Million cap hit and according to CapFriendly's calculator the team would be hit with a nearly $10.4 Million cap penalty if they were to buyout the contract. You can't even get a player on a league minimum cap hit with that savings; and to add to that, you'd still be hit with an additional 300K the following year.
The other discussion is whether Tavares would waive his no trade clause for the Maple Leafs to get some cap room. The current Leafs roster has so much poorly spent money you'd have several trades before you need the cap space Tavares is taking up.
Furthermore, Tavares curren cold streak is being driven by bad shooting luck by him and his linemates, as can be clearly seen from his on-ice stats that show he's still about as good as he ever was.
Why are fans looking for Tavares to get traded?
When Kyle Dubas signed the former number overall pick many stated the team was getting a hometown kid, who was an elite center and oozed leadership. Unfortunately, depsite his best numbers that is just not what Tavares has been now or throughout his career.
Since being drafted in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and jumping right into the league, Tavares has been a really good center, but not elite. He has scored more than 38-goals just once in his career, which was his 28-year old season having Mitch Marner on his wing the whole year.
He has never cracked 90-points or won an individual award, despite other forwards drafted first overall in his era amass these recognitions.
Tavares is now in his 15th NHL season and has won just two playoff series over the duration of his career and has not made it a Conference Finals. When things get tough, Tavares more or less skates away showing little bite in his game, lacking what leaders like Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos or Jonathan Toews have displayed.
Tavares is not much of a puck carrier, set-up man or a high end defensive responsible center, but what he has always been has been a top level shooter, but that has disappeared as of late.
Over the last two months dating back to November 19, Tavares has collected just five goals in 29 games despite averaging 18:13 a night in that time frame.
When you look at even more recent numbers, Tavares has scored just one goal since the calendar turned to 2024, while registering three points in his last 12 games and has gone completely pointless in his last eight games.
The Maple Leafs have one of the harder schedules going down the stretch and there is no replacing Tavares in the line-up, he will be the second line center.
The team plays a home and home series with the Winnipeg Jets (last night and Saturday) before the team gets an eight day break, hopefully the team captain can find some time to find his scoring touch.