If the Leafs are looking for a dependable defensive defenceman without potentially breaking the bank, Tanev would be an ideal target.
What has been a major issue for the 30-year-old throughout his career has been staying healthy considering he has never played more than 70 games in a season. It looked like things were looking up for him this season, as he suited up in all 69 games for the Vancouver Canucks and was seeing a heavy dose of defensive zone starts.
In an ideal world the Leafs would pair Tanev with Morgan Rielly, which proved to be a formidable pairing at the 2016 IIHF World Championships with Team Canada. Granted that was four years ago, but there isn’t a reason why Tanev couldn’t be the right fit with Rielly right now.
After adding Tyler Myers last off-season, the Canucks seemed to have been preparing for Tanev to potentially leave in free agency. When it comes to the market for right-handed defencemen, Tanev seems to be the second-best option behind Pietrangelo and one that wouldn’t break the bank as much.
Coming off a five-year deal that came with a $4.45 million cap hit, it’s tough to see Tanev getting a substantial raise considering he doesn’t have the offensive upside and durability as leverage.
If the Leafs can afford to pay Tanev what they were giving Cody Ceci then it’s a possibility the team can consider, but the issue here might be the term. It’s tough to see the Leafs wanting to hand Tanev a five-year deal considering they gave a 31-year-old Jake Muzzin a four-year extension.
Throwing their names into the Tanev conversation wouldn’t be the worse idea for the Leafs, but they will have to be careful with what the contract demands will be.