Toronto Maple Leafs: A possible fit for John Tavares

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: John Tavares
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: John Tavares /

Eyes will be on John Tavares as he gets closer to UFA status and according to a TSN analyst, there may be a way the Toronto Maple Leafs can get him signed.

Last season it was Kevin Shattenkirk. The season before, it was Steven Stamkos. Every year there is a possible free agent who fans cross their fingers for and hope their team can sign. It’s safe to say there are a large number of Toronto Maple Leafs fans who want John Tavares.

The 26-year-old has been on the New York Islanders for the last eight seasons. He’s served as team captain and has put up a lot of numbers as the team’s number one centre. Scoring 537 points in 587 games is nothing less than impressive.

Additionally, Tavares is from the Toronto area (well, Mississauga, but close enough), so there are a lot of reasons for the interest. So obviously, as he enters the new season without a contract, the hope is that he finishes the season without a new contract. In fact Tavares told Newsday’s Arthur Staple: “There’s really no rush”.

Music to Leafs’ fans ears. Back in 2016, the hope was Stamkos would be interested by the hyped homecoming and play for Toronto. Unfortunately that didn’t pan out well, as he ended up re-signing with Tampa Bay. However, is it possible the legendary homecoming can still happen with Tavares?

Coming Home

It makes sense for Leafs fans to be cautiously optimistic. However, TSN’s Craig Button thinks it’s actually possible for Tavares to become a Maple Leaf.

A lot of people harp on about the window that the Leaf’s have. Young stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner still have another two years left on their entry-level-contract. Because of that, the team could and should take advantage of the cap flexibility they will have in the next two years and push for something greater.

They’ve already started with signing Patrick Marleau this offseason. Button believes the Leafs should do the same with Tavares. In a hit for SportsCentre, Button said Toronto could sign him. What may surprise many was he said the Leafs should sign Tavares to a one-year deal.

Now that’s kind of weird wouldn’t you say? Usually the next big contract for a star has a lot more term. To explain his theory, Button brought up Marian Hossa signing with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008. They didn’t win the cup, but Hossa did make the team better for that year.

Is it Possible?

The Leafs having Tavares at all would be great. It’s different from previous years. Toronto is actually an attractive market to play in now. For the first time in a long time, the Maple Leafs actually look like they can accomplish something down the road.

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The same may not be able to be said about the Islanders. It’s shakey there. Garth Snow made a trade with the Edmonton Oilers to get a top-line winger for Tavares in Jordan Eberle. The team has good pieces overall, but who knows if they’ll be able to reach a Cup Final in the near future.

So could Tavares sign here next summer? I think there’s a better chance than we think. However to Craig’s point on it being a one-year deal may not happen. From what we’ve seen, players value term most of all, so they can have some security.

Tavares could very well extend with the Islanders mid-season. That’s another possibility Leafs fans have to be prepared for. However, if the situation doesn’t change, the Toronto Maple Leafs will definitely be at the forefront of teams waiting to bring him on.

Next: A difficult decision with Kapanen

Do the Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance at signing Tavares? Do you agree with Button in that a one-year deal is possible? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.