John Tavares and the Leafs aren’t a match

The New York Islanders are hosting the New York Rangers at Barclays Centre tonight. Why does this matter? It could be John Tavares’ last game at home as a member of the Islanders.

Actually, scratch that, let’s just be honest. This is going to be Tavares’ last game at home as an Islander. Tavares has said he wants to be back, but, like, what else would he say? Also, even if he wants to stay, is this ownership going to pony up the cash to keep him around? Many around the league feel it’s inevitable that he’s gone. 

Fill that stadium, Islanders fans. Even if you have to sit in one of the many spots where you can’t see the ice, get out there and appreciate this guy. I mean, hell, go and sit in that car they have in the corner of the rink and cheer him from there.

Tavares, drafted first overall in 2009, was never able to push the Islanders over the hump. That wasn’t his fault. He was supposed to be the guy to resurrect the Islanders from irrelevance, but thanks to some horrendous management and inconsistent ownership, he was never given the support to do so. He did lead them to the playoffs and he helped the team win its first playoff series since 1993, but the Islanders came nowhere near contending during their Tavares window despite the ludicrously team-friendly deal (six years, $33 million!!!) he signed back in 2011.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post has a great line that summarizes what’s going on in Brooklyn:

What if, after nine years of pledging his heart, soul and loyalty to the Islanders only to be repaid with unvarnished organizational incompetence, John Tavares decides that, yes indeed, he wants to see life from the other side?

This, of course, is in regards to Tavares leaving and signing with the Rangers, which would be unprecedented. But since he’s a local kid and Toronto media has been hyping him up as a possible future Leaf since he scored 91 goals for the Toronto Marlboros, we have to talk about whether or not John Tavares will sign in Toronto this summer.

The Tavares and Toronto hype train hasn’t generated the same momentum as the Stamkos Toronto hype train did two summers ago. It seemed as though Local Boy Stamkos would come home and help lead the Leafs’ rebuild, but, instead, he ultimately chose to re-sign in Tampa Bay, live on the beach, and enjoy not paying income tax. Can you blame him?

Back then, though, the Leafs were bad. They had just drafted Auston Matthews and the franchise didn’t have a face. Over the last two years, the team has generated an identity. Matthews has been everything you could ask for and more, William Nylander and Mitch Marner have become excellent Robins to his Bat Man, and Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly, guys from the old rebuild, have carved out niches as very good players out of the spotlight.

The Leafs don’t really need a star right now like it seemed that they did in 2016 when Stamkos was set to hit the open market for the first time in his career. That’s why Tavares and the Leafs don’t make sense. That, and, well, money.

The Leafs have about $45 million committed to their roster next season. James van Riemsdyk, Leo Komarov, and Tyler Bozak, a group of franchise staples from the past few years, are set to hit free agency. William Nylander’s entry-level deal is expiring this summer and Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner’s entry-level deals are going to expire the following summer. When those three are signed, they’ll likely cost somewhere around $26 million combined.

With those players making that kind of cash, there’s no way the Leafs can find $10 million in the free agent market to ink John Tavares. As cool as it would be, it isn’t realistic. The money would be better spent on keeping around JVR, a familiar star payer in his own right, or diving into the free agent blueline market and bringing John Carlson on board. Actually, while we’re thinking out loud, Tavares could possibly be a fit on the West Coast in San Jose, freeing up Joe Thornton to make a one-year run with his good pal Patrick Marleau next season before the Matthews extension kicks in.

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  • mst

    First off Stamkos pays Ontario tax. He gets to subtract any US taxes paid but so long as he’s a citiczen he pays tax.

    Secondly it won’t cost 26 for the big three. Ehlers is a direct comparable to Nylander with even better stats and he makes 6 so so will Nylander. Matthews will make 10.5 as his comparable is Eichel. Marner is a little tricky. His number in his first 2 years are identical to Draistl’s so that would put him at 8.5. But Draistl plays center so Marner will likely get 7.5. That’ 24.5 nit 26.

    The cap is likely to be around 86-88 mill when Matthews and Marners deals count.

    And Marleau will be sent to Robidas island in his last year and won’t coumt on the cap. This is made obvious by the fact that he only gets 1 million for his last year after his July 1 bonus payout.

    They will also get rid of all or part of Martin’s 2.5.

    Bottom line Leafs CAN afford Taveres if he is willing to come. And they shoyld since this is the last time they will be able to add a superstar intil the next tank.

    • ChasinSF

      If he is a Canadian resident then yes he would pay income tax, but if he claims a US address as his residence, he would not. I am Canadian citizen but a US resident , I only pay US taxes.

    • Regulator Johnson

      Robidas island isn’t a thing anymore I don’t think. Contracts sent to the minors still count against the cap now. They could certainly deal him (which is why his 2020 pay is so low) but they can’t send him down.

      • Robidas wasn’t sent to the minors, he was placed on IR with a mystery “injury” to avoid a cap penalty if he were to just straight-up retire. Robidas Island is still very much a thing – it’s where Lupul is sitting right now.

        American citizens who make over $100,000 a year abroad have to pay US income tax, but we don’t have a similar rule in Canada. If you’re not ordinarily resident in Canada, you don’t pay Canadian income tax. If Tavares and Stamkos are living more than half the year in the US (likely), they’re only paying American federal and state taxes.

    • Radio

      I suspect that its a pretty big assumption that the cap would be at 86-88 million in a year when the Matthews, Marner extension would need to kick in. It took 3 seasons to go from 71.4m to 75m and we still don’t know if next year’s cap is 78m (thus requiring an 8-10m jump) or 82m (requiring a 4-6m jump). Hard to imagine the NHL’s revenues climbing so much that the cap jumps that much in just one year.

  • Bob Canuck

    I think we should avoid discussions about how Tavares will or will not be taxed in Canada. The taxation of athletes is very complicated given the involvement of multiple jurisdictions (countries, states, provinces, cities, etc.) and their respective rules, treaties, etc.

    Take a listen to the March 21, 2018 edition of Prime Time Sports starting at the 58 minute mark. Robert Raiola (senior manager at O’Connor Davies LLP) spoke about the complications and specifically addressed a Stamkos-type player at the 1:07 mark.

    Robert Raiola was quoted in a National Post article (Michael Traikos, April 13, 2016) on the subject of Stamkos. Raiola noted the higher taxes that Stamkos would have paid as a Leaf compared to what he would have paid as a Lightning.

    Raiola co-wrote a Sports Illustrated article in January of this year about the taxation of Jimmy Garoppolo’s Super Bowl winnings.

    I dare say Raiola knows more about the subject of the taxation of sports athletes than we do. Let’s leave this matter to the experts.

    • leafdreamer

      Also, there is no comparing endorsement money Tavares can make in Toronto to anything he can get in the States where they give a damn about hockey. At a very minimum (9×8 and at 30% income tax rate) he’s making 50 million bucks – that’s outrageous money and more than enough for anyone.