Insider Lays Out 4 Options For Maple Leafs Captain John Tavares This Summer

One of the biggest conundrums facing the Toronto Maple Leafs this off-season will be what to do about captain John Taveras. He'll be entering the final year of his rich $11 million AAV contract next season, and according to insider Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic, the Leafs have four options to choose from in which to move forward with Tavares come the offseason: 

  1. Work out a very cheap hometown-friendly extension
  2. Ask him to waive his no-movement clause (and try to trade him)
  3. Buy him out to get some salary cap relief
  4. Do nothing and let him walk at the end of next season

Tavares's $11M cap hit has been a strain on the team the past few seasons, as his production and value to the team hasn't always lived up to that elite contract. Finding wiggle room to add pieces around the Core Four has been difficult. 

But Tavares is the local kid star player who wanted nothing more than to come home and play for his hometown Maple Leafs when he ditched a very angry New York Islanders fanbase in 2018 to sign his 7-year, $77 million free agent deal with Toronto. 

Now, going into his age-34 season, it's time for Tavares to really show how much it means to him to play for the Leafs. With career earnings of over $121 million, and, we assume, still holding that burning desire to win a Cup with his hometown team, the only option that really makes sense for both sides, as noted by Duhatschek as well, is #1 — have him sign a very team-friendly extension. 

Tavares, is, after all, still a solid middle-six center, and is basically a player you never have to worry about, on or off the ice. He'd still be a valuable piece moving forward, but at a much, much cheaper cap hit. 

It's extremely difficult to see the Leafs going with, essentially, 'scorched earth' options #2 or #3 (trade or buyout), leaving #4 as the only other option. Once again, that all lands on Tavares now — to prove once and for all how much it really means for him to finish his career as a Toronto Maple Leaf: Re-sign this summer on the cheap, or go find a bigger deal on the open market in 2025. 

Photo: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports