At the time of writing, John Tavares has yet to announce which team he will be signing with and William Nylander is still a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There has been a lot of talk by hockey media about the Toronto Maple Leafs needing to move William Nylander if they acquire John Tavares.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos is the latest to throw his hat into the ring where this debate is concerned but at this point, there is no reason to expect anything to change any time soon.
Kypreos states that teams can’t carry four players in the $7-$11 million range, but most recent reports suggest that Nylander could be expecting a deal closer to $6 million.
If Nylander is signed for an annual cap hit of $6 million, then there’s no reason why the Leafs need to trade him away.
Having scanned CapFriendly, at the very least there are three teams in the NHL that have at least four players earning between $6-$11 million, with two of those having three sitting between the $7-$11 million range with an extra $6 million player that the Leafs are currently looking at.
Those teams are the Pittsburgh Penguins (two Stanley Cups in the past three seasons), Washington Capitals (current NHL champions) and Chicago Blackhawks (three cups between 2010 and 2015).
For the Blackhawks, they have two $10 million+ players, Brent Seabrook earns a hair less than $7 million and they have two players earning a flat $6 million.
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When looking at these teams’ cap situations, the Maple Leafs should have no problems with keeping Nylander, re-signing Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, as well as signing Tavares (if he chooses them).un
The Leafs can still take advantage of Nathan Horton‘s contract situation, placing him on long-term injured reserve to receive a $5 million buffer, if they find themselves right up against the cap.
This can be used for two more seasons before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
Nylander, who is one of the team’s key players at the age of just 22, isn’t going to be traded away, even for someone such as Chris Tanev; there may be some other casualties come 2019.
Patrick Marleau eats up a lot of cap room at $6.25 million and is signed until 2020.
Marleau has been extremely productive since joining the Leafs and there’s every reason to expect he will continue that trend next season, especially if he gets to be paired with Tavares.
But beyond next season, the Leafs may have to move him in order to accommodate their hypothetical ‘big four’.
Marleau could be ideal trade bait for a team needing to reach the cap floor, with his leadership and penchant for scoring still very attractive despite his advanced age.
One other player whose future becomes less clear is Jake Gardiner, who becomes a UFA after next season and will be looking to earn more than his current $4.05 million deal.
While Gardiner is an excellent offensive defenceman, the Leafs could look to fill his roster spot with one of their younger defensive prospects currently playing for the Marlies.
The Leafs do have some questions about their defence, but Ron Hainsey and his $3 million cap hit will also be gone after next season.
Rasmus Sandin will also be an option further down the line, giving the Leafs some options should they accept that Gardiner will be gone.
But as far as the talk surrounding Nylander being traded because the Leafs won’t be able to afford him, that isn’t going to happen, as other teams have shown it is more than possible to accommodate several players in that high cap range.
What do you think Toronto Maple Leafs fans? Will John Tavares join the team? Will the Buds look to move players to accommodate him? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!