Maple Leafs Facing Big Sacrifice to Split Up the Core Four

Maple Leafs Facing Big Sacrifice to Split Up the Core Four
If the Toronto Maple Leafs are to successfully move on from the idea of the Core Four being the backbone of their team and push toward a Stanley Cup, splitting the group will come with sacrifices. With no-move clauses given to all of the players the team might want to send out for a different look, names like Mitch Marner, John Tavares, or others can make life difficult.

As such, GM Brad Treliving and President Brendan Shanahan will need to decide what they are willing to give up to make the changes they feel are necessary.

Why the Leafs Can’t Just Trade Someone

Some Maple Leafs fans have thrown out trade scenarios that would work for Toronto, but are conveniently forgetting one important thing: teams might see a player like Marner as talented, but no one is going to pay full price or make it easy for the Maple Leafs to move on from the forward, assuming Marner even agrees.

No movement clauses are given to top players so that those players can have some level of choice as to where they will be moved. Marner can pick two, three, or however many teams he wants. He can also pick one (if he picks any), in which case the Leafs have the least leverage among all parties involved. If Marner decides he only wants to go to “x” team, that team can wait out Toronto, or the Leafs can say, ‘Fine, at least we’re moving the player and getting the salary space to do something else.’ Even in that scenario, Toronto may be forced to take money back, retain salary, or live with the fact they invested years into a player that got much less in return than the organization would have hoped.

The same goes for Tavares, only fewer teams are going to want the veteran and his severely bloated salary.

What if Toronto Has to Throw Someone Into the Deal?

What if Marner agrees to move, a team is interested in taking him and signing him to an extension, and the Leafs want to make a deal? What if the only way said team is open to it is if the Leafs throw in a prospect or a draft pick? Should Toronto go there? Or, do they hold firm on trying to move the player without retaining any salary or giving up picks and/or prospects in the trade?

History has shown that teams who try to wait for the best deal, often don’t get it.

There is a scenario where a team might show interest in Marner, but Marner tells that team is plan is to play out the final season on his contract and test free agency. If that happens, the team who is set to give up assets to get the forward in a single season and push towards the playoffs is going to either a) be only willing to pay a rental price or b) want some assurances in the form of another player in the event Marner walks. That suggests they will ask for players like Fraser Minten, Nick Robertson, or others to make a deal work.

How far is Toronto willing to go to get the Marner or Tavares contract off the books? Is this a situation where the Leafs realize it’s best to just move on and eat the cost of doing a trade? Or, do they stick with what they have and refuse to lose a deal that badly?

What if a Trade Doesn’t Materialize?

The other scenario is that Toronto can’t find a trade partner or a deal they like. Then what? Maple Leafs management was fairly blunt about how this particular setup hasn’t worked. Patience is gone and there won’t be an appetite to run it back one more season with the four players as is. How much is Toronto open to taking the heat that comes with doing nothing?

Some may argue the organization doesn’t care about how fans perceive their offseason moves, but they do. This is a franchise that knows they need to do something big. And that something is much more than hiring a new coach. How many fans bail on this team as a result? Maybe none. Maybe a lot.

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