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Maple Leafs Core: “0% Chance All of Those Guys Are Back”

According to one NHL insider, when it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs Core four, there is a “0% Chance All of Those Guys Are Back”

Given how many times the Toronto Maple Leafs have tried to win with the Core Four and failed, it’s perhaps not surprising that NHL insider and TSN analyst Chris Johnston says there is close to a “0% chance” the group of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander are all back together as a group next season. This is an experiment that was given time, and now the time is for change.

Johnston believes that Matthews and Nylander will be exempt from any trade discussions, but there will be chatter about Marner and Tavares, both of whom do not have long-term deals on the books in Toronto. Tavares has one more season at $11 million and Marner one more year at $10.9. Moving one or both of them would free up a hefty sum, enough to get better depth on the team and try a different balance on the roster that is more conducive to winning playoff hockey games.

Johnston agreed with Jeff O’Neill who argued that you simply can’t give that much money to four guys and expect to be deep enough to win. Johnston went further and said their cap hits take into account health. Not using Matthews’ illness or Nylander’s issues during this season’s playoffs as an excuse, Johnston noted those kinds of absences will be expected every year and when all of your money is tied into a few stars, when one of those stars goes down, it’s disastrous.

The Maple Leafs Have No Choice But to Make a Change

Johnston also noted that if the Leafs stick with this group, it will actually be worse for them financially than it was this season. Matthews and Nylander will both see significant bumps in pay this summer and these increases outweigh the increase in the salary cap. Percentage-wise, the Leafs will have more money tied up in the core four than ever before.

John Tavares and/or Mitch Marner Maple Leafs could be traded

The question becomes who you trade, how you get that person to waive their no-move clause, and what you get in return. Moving one or more of the core four won’t be easy. It’s something the team should have done before every member of the group had the leverage to control their fate.

Next: Blockbuster Marner Trade Idea Proposed Between Maple Leafs and Flames

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Afp1961

    May 11, 2024 at 12:31 pm

    Jim – as you know from my numerous years of posting this is real time – I have never been a Marner fan. Far too many youngsters see this kid from the local burbs always smiling and dipsy doodling and confuse this for good Hockey. Have written hundreds of times he lacks character, grit, intensity, tenacity, fearlessness to get the job done when the chips are down. It has been evident in virtually every playoff series since he arrived. Don’t let the points distract you from the facts. Take away the secondary assists (league gives them out like candy) and the early game inconsequential points. Show me his results in series closing games and then let’s talk.

    Ferris did the kid no favors by demanding equal billing and compensation as Matthews. It put bigger expectations than necessary. Same year comparables like Aho, Rantanen and Point all signed for 1-2M less within days of marners deal as others GMs and agents new the market economics better. All are flourishing with their teams except of course for Marner. Says something.

    The leafs also gave the keys to the empire to a rookie GM and coach and allowed them to apprentice on the job. Criminal. Absolute lunacy. They compounded the issues with Marner. Building a team and allocating 50%+ to four offensive guys has not been a blueprint anywhere. Look at Tampa, Colorado, Rangers, Florida etc. all have a spine beginning with a top goalie, stud #1 Dman and then fwds.

    Beyond all this Marner has now become the whipping boy. All the early years of love and affection has worn off the shiny local toy that is astute followers saw from day one.

    Now the parties need to see the reality and pivot. Best for both sides and move on. Cannot be fun for Marner living in this fishbowl of intensity. Give ten teams to Treliving and go be “the guy” somewhere else.

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