The post Maple Leafs May Be Preparing to Lowball John Tavares appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs wind down the season and get ready for the playoffs, a number of eyes will be on the core four, particularly John Tavares and how productive he is heading into the last year of a long-term contract he signed with the Maple Leafs in 2018. Should the Leafs have a successful run, Tavares will need to play a critical role. Should they not, there will be questions about what to do with him as he’s aging and overpaid.

Drafted first overall in 2009, Tavares, now 33, remains a significant presence in the league. That said, he’s not the player he once was, and his controversial $11 million per season contract expires after the upcoming season. The Leafs won’t be willing to invest in him sticking around, especially considering he’s never potted more than 88 points in a season and money needs to go elsewhere.

John Tavares NHL Maple Leafs

Despite being among the game’s highest-paid players, Tavares’ production doesn’t match that of his peers. While others in a similar pay bracket boast eye-popping point totals, Tavares falls short, raising questions about his contract’s value.

What Should the Maple Leafs Do About Tavares’ Next Deal?

In light of this, some suggest the Maple Leafs take a calculated gamble in upcoming negotiations by offering Tavares a reduced deal. And, we’re not just talking about a fair deal that falls shy of what he might be able to earn with another team. No, the Maple Leafs should lowball the sh– out of his next contract offer.

Despite potential pushback, it’s argued that Tavares’ desire to play for his hometown team and secure a Stanley Cup win may outweigh purely financial considerations. The Leafs hold the leverage here. They know he has no desire to go anywhere. In fact, they probably know he’ll retire before he considers playing for another team.

Drawing parallels to other players who prioritized being a Maple Leaf over personal gain, Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic argues that Tavares is the next Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, and Mark Giordano. By accepting a lower salary, Tavares could afford the Maple Leafs greater financial flexibility to strengthen their roster, particularly in areas of need like defense. And, if he walks, he walks.

Duhatschek argues:

In my view, the short answer to this query is easy and straightforward. Extend him on the cheap. I don’t see asking Tavares to waive his no-movement clause as an option. Tavares joined the Leafs originally because he wanted to play for his hometown team and help his hometown team win the Stanley Cup.

Ultimately, the suggestion to extend Tavares on a reduced contract hinges on the belief that his commitment to Toronto’s success transcends financial gain, offering the Maple Leafs a strategic advantage in building a championship-caliber team.

Next: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs 4-2 Win Over the Canadiens

The post Maple Leafs May Be Preparing to Lowball John Tavares appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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