Damien Cox dropped a really, really bad take this morning. Hold on to your shorts, this one is rough.
John Tavares is playing so well it does make you think; why not sign Marner and Nylander, and trade Matthews for a whole pile of goodies? Not saying they would, but it’s not such a crazy idea any more. And that’s because of JT.
— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) November 14, 2018
When Matthews got placed on the Injured Reserve, the Leafs had an 8-3 record. Since then, they’ve gone… 8-3. They’ve been just as good without him as they have been with him! Do the math! It all adds up! Trade him! A whole pile of goodies!
This whole thing is basically the Mystery Box scene from Family Guy.
Having a really, really good player, which Matthews is, is better than having a big pile of decent players. The NHL in the cap world is a strong core of stars league. Look at Pittsburgh, they’ve augmented their roster around Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang a million different times. It’s easy to find things that work when you have two of the best players in the game up the middle.
The Leafs, with Matthews and Tavares, have an opportunity to have a one-two punch on the level of that Pittsburgh duo. Beyond that, they even have Nazem Kadri as their third best centre, giving them probably the best depth down the middle in the league. You can augment that core with goodies pretty easily. You can find a bunch of goodies like Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen, and Zach Hyman to plug into the roster, but you don’t just find a star player like Matthews who can make other players better.
The bag of goodies thing doesn’t work. Just ask the Bruins. Remember when they gave away Joe Thornton for a bag of goodies? They got Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart. What a haul! While Boston did end up winning the Stanley Cup half a decade later, none of those players were involved, and Thornton has gone on to be one of the best players of this generation in San Jose.
Very soon, Matthews is going to be the second best player in the league behind Connor McDavid. No bag of goodies can bring the Leafs the value that Matthews does. You don’t give that up to add depth to your roster. I honestly can’t think of a time in which quality for quantity has worked out for the team that gives up the best player.