Maple Leafs Have Just 2 Untouchables

The Toronto Maple Leafs are rightfully open to make almost any move in order to win. That is the only goal at this point. The 'Core 4' hasn't been able to get it done and there have been rumors of that being broken up this offseason.

Since the core of this group for the Maple Leafs were assembled, the team has lost in the first round of the playoffs in seven of the eight seasons. All seven times they were defeated in a winner takes all game and only won five games total in the season where Toronto made it out of the first round.

After another defeat, something has to change. Former head coach Sheldon Keefe was already let go, but that is not nearly enough. He isn't on the ice impacting the game like the players can. Jeff Marek said that Auston Matthews and William Nylander are the only untouchables for the Maple Leafs, and that makes perfect sense.

Matthews signed his next deal in August of 2023 and Nylander signed a max term (eight-year) deal in February of this year. With no-move clauses attached, they are going nowhere unless they want to. Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and the rest of the team are easier to move and there's much more incentive to do so.

Marner had a poor postseason showing against the Boston Bruins and has one year left on his $10.9 million AAV deal. Regardless of if he wants to stay in Toronto or not, he is going to be asking for $11.5 million AAV (the same as Nylander's cap hit) at the very least and there's no logical way the Maple Leafs should do that. Tavares isn't the exact same situation, but with one year left and much older, the team can't justify paying him a decently big salary to be the third line center.

After those two members of the Core 4, it seems like everyone else is on the table, including Joseph Woll, Morgan Rielly, Matthew Knies, etc. Of course these players would only be moved if they are involved in a big and impactful deal to upgrade the team. Woll is staying unless there's a goalie like Jacob Markstrom targeted and Knies would only be traded if someone in their prime is brought back.

Brad Treliving and company have their work cut out for them this offseason. There were some changes last offseason that many thought would help, but it ended up being the same song and dance. Bigger changes are coming.

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