Since 2014 when the Leafs decided to get smart and not be stupid anymore, the list of players who will supposedly be migrating north to get in on this major rebuild seems to be growing by the day.
The organization’s turn in the right direction started with the Shanahan hire and his two quick additions of Dubas and Hunter. And now with Lou and Babcock brought aboard as well, their sites seem to finally be locked in on winning…eventually.
The spin-off of this overhaul has apparently now turned Toronto into some sort of Miami Heat-like players’ paradise where everyone comes home to the center of the hockey universe to win championships. It’s about damn time, I say.
We’ve been over the Stamkos rumours so many times that there’s not much to add to that conversation right now in terms of “will he or won’t he”. It seems to be well-documented that Toronto will make a play for him, but they won’t do it at the cost of any of the prime futures they’ve accumulated. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
But the big talking point on the Stamkos circus has always been whether it makes sense for him to join this team right now, in midst of building and trying to find ways to win in the next few years. There’s a very real possibility the Leafs are again near the league basement next season at least, so perhaps he doesn’t have the stomach for that.
For that reason, Larry Brooks of the New York Post believes the chances of Stamkos landing in Toronto are remote. But there’s another number 91 who might make more sense, and his free agency date might actually align with the ‘Shanaplan’ the best of all.
John Tavares is scheduled to hit the open market in the summer of 2018, and like Stamkos, should be shooting at salary figures near the highest ever if it gets that far. He’ll be 27-years-old at the time, still in his prime years, and should see a Leafs organization at that point making major headway in becoming a contender. As Brooks notes, if the Islanders can’t take a step forward in that time performance-wise, and if they continue to half-commit to Brooklyn as their hockey home, things could go sour. It seems they already have, a little.
Now, like the whole Stamkos situation, this is just some spitballing and there doesn’t appear to be anything concrete, but it is an interesting thought since the timeline on Tavares as a big free agent prize does make a lot more sense for Toronto.
I feel like we always need to end these things off by reminding ourselves that, either way, the Leafs are in fine hands and will continue to do what they need to do outside of worrying about pending free agents. It’s just surprising to see Tavares and Toronto rumours get dropped in print like this for the first time since Brian Burke made a fool of himself by publicly declaring he’d trade for him at the 2009 draft. Hopefully it goes better this time around.