The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Only Themselves to Blame

The Toronto Maple Leafs have roster reconstruction impediments thanks to their no-movement clauses. Both management and the players must live up to the terms and conditions within a contract. The Leafs, or any other team, that puts in a no-movement clause, ought to honor it. Mitch Marner and John Tavares shouldn't feel obligated to help the Leafs by agreeing to be moved.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are feeling the pressure to make change in the face of failure, but they've locked themselves into a corner.

While reflecting on another unsuccessful trip to the postseason, president Brendan Shanahan gave voice to the idea that the blueprint may need to change. Toronto Maple Leafs management gave hints that the core of the team might be altered.

Thanks to the parameters within the players' contracts, that will be difficult to do. The Leafs have five players with a no-movement clause in their contract. These five include the biggest names on the roster: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly.

If the Leafs want to significantly change the core of their team, they will need agreement from those players. It's a sensitive topic to navigate and the Leafs have only themselves to blame for the mess created by their no-movement clauses.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Only Themselves to Blame For the Obstacles Caused by No-Movement Clauses

Since the Maple Leafs signed both Matthews and Nylander to significant long-term extensions, the attention has turned to Tavares and Marner. Both have only one year remaining until they hit unrestricted free agency.

Many fans are saying that the Leafs should approach either or both of them to gauge their interest in rescinding their no-movement clauses. They have each publicly stated that they want to remain in Toronto.

Marner and Tavares shouldn't feel obligated to help the Leafs. The Leafs, or any other team, that puts in a no-movement clause, ought to honor it.

The players have all of the control and that's the biggest obstruction to the Leafs making noteworthy changes to their core.

Problems Loom Should the Leafs Ask Players to Void Deals

Should the Leafs ask the players to nullify their deals, it's a blight on their reputation. Players around the NHL will take note of the mistreatment and not honoring the contracts.

Secondly, it will be hard to find any sort of equitable trade if you are the Leafs. Once word gets out of the chosen path, the Leafs are not dealing from a position of strength. Other teams are likely to hold a hard bargain since the players can limite the number of teams involved in the bidding.

The Leafs would then have to choose between getting a diminished return or having two important, homegrown players playing out the last year of their deal feeling slighted. This is not ideal, especially as the clock ticks on the prime years of your best players.

It's not just the Maple Leafs who succumb to the players' wishes when it comes to full no-movement clauses, although they have cornered the market. Their main division rivals also have multiple players with NMCs. The Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins each have four players with full no-movement clauses. (All stats courtesy of


The Toronto Maple Leafs have become leaders in the recent trend of awarding players no-movement clauses. It's a provision that helps secure a player's services but severely hinders the options around roster repair. It's left the Leafs in a perilous situation, but they can't really complain - they did it to themselves.