NHL Rumors: Could the Toronto Maple Leafs Trade a Big Four Forward Regardless of Playoff Results?

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TSN: Chris Johnston on TSN radio said that despite what could happen in the playoffs, even if they lose to a better team, he believes one of the Toronto Maple Leafs top four forwards could be on the move this offseason.

“That might be, but let me be really clear here, this is not reporting, this is just my sort of assessment of the situation. I think that we’ll see one of the top four highest paid forwards traded this summer no matter what happens.

Just my view. I think that this will be the last year, if we call this the experiment, or the attempt to make that work.

You know it’s not their fault. The fact that they paid those guys what they paid them with the assumption, prior to the pandemic, that the cap would be going up by two or three or four or five million every year as it did for a long time, and that hasn’t happened.

And so, I think this is the summer where someone’s traded. I don’t know who it’s going to be. I’d be shocked if it’s Auston Matthews for obvious reasons. He might be the best player in the NHL. Certainly one of the best few. John Tavares has a no-trade clause. That leaves a few others to choose from.

I don’t think it’s running anyone out of town as much as, it’s probably, maybe a chance to rethink how they are splitting up their cap. But, I could see that coming this summer for sure.

Again, whether they have success in the playoffs or not, I think that that is a likely outcome here. It’s a strange time. I think in a lot of ways this is the last playoffs with any certainty for that core of players, that they’ve drafted internally. They were patient with Nylander.  He spent some time in the AHL. Marner went back to the OHL the year after he was drafted. They get Matthews. They lured Tavares in free agency. I think this is the last year of any one of those players has any certainty 100 percent they are going to be a Maple Leaf. And they’re going to have to try something different moving forward.

And again, a lot of that is due to the fact that we’ve had a flat salary cap in the NHL for three years. That has never happened before. No one saw the pandemic coming. It was like four days before the pandemic and people were talking about the Coronavirus, like why are you guys even talking about this.

My point is, I’m not holding that over management’s head, but I do think this is probably the end for these guys in a sense, and it makes the playoffs more interesting.

You’re right Noodles, like they could lose to a better team in a great series. They could lose a six or seven game series to Tampa, and playoffs not as good, but I think they’re gonna have to rethink how that core works. And we’re seeing all these young guys getting signed out of college now. I think they are going to introduce different players to the roster next year, win, lose or draw.”

** NHLRumors.com transcription

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