John Tavares’ Next Contract Could Resemble Evgeni Malkin’s

Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
6 months ago
With William Nylander locked in long term for the Maple Leafs, naturally, all the conversations quickly shifted to how Toronto’s going to afford re-signing Mitch Marner and John Tavares. Both players have next season under their belts and are set to hit free agency the summer of 2025. Turns out it could be easier than people think.
For one, the salary cap could hit as high as $100 million in three seasons, which will be music to the ears of many, including Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving. And with Marner taking priority over Tavares, and expected to be paid handsomely, it’s the captain who will be the player to watch in all of this.
While you shouldn’t expect to see him take a Jason Spezza-type hometown discount of under $1 million, it’s extremely likely that Tavares looks to finish his career as a Leaf and an incoming extension could very well mirror that of Pittsburgh Penguins great Evgeni Malkin or even potentially lower.

Besides Cups, Lots of Similarities Between the Two

When Malkin entered free agency the summer of 2022, he was 35 years old. Tavares after the 2024-25 season, 35 years old. Malkin had 981 games under his belt, all of course with the Penguins, meanwhile if all things stay in order health wise, Tavares will be hovering around 1200.
Throughout his 30’s, Malkin has managed to stay productive, despite battling some knee injuries along the way. The past four-plus seasons, including 39 games this year, the Penguins legend has registered 1.05 points-per game. An impressive figure considering many doubted the Russian forward would be able to keep producing into the late stages of his career. As for Tavares, he’s been everything as advertised since signing in Toronto and the past four-plus seasons, he’s averaged 0.95 points-per game.
Malkin makes a solid benchmark for Treliving to consider during negotiations and will everything involved in the matter, is likely the highest end of the spectrum.

Tavares’ Home-Town Discount Will Be Significant

While Malkin had to wait out Ron Hextall and his interesting ways of negotiating, it’s quite likely once Tavares is eligible to sign an extension, talks will begin between the two sides. Every level of the organization has been very pleased with how the captain has handled himself on and off the ice and Tavares is the perfect leader for this Leafs team.
Malkin ended up signing on the dotted line for three more seasons at $6.1 million, which included a full no-movement clause. It was a drop of $3.4 million per season from his previous deal. Considering his production has been slightly higher than Tavares and there’s three Stanley Cup rings sitting on his mantle along with a Conn Smythe trophy, Tavares’ AAV should be coming in lower. Something under six would be a huge win for the Maple Leafs.
My bold prediction would be Tavares signs a three-year contract extension in 2025 for $16.5 million, $5.5 million AAV. Essentially taking half of his current deal and giving Treliving and the Leafs a chance to move their financial resources around. Tavares is the ultimate team guy, he’ll have made $106 million off his salary alone, not to mention endorsements and he understands the market, but also the importance of keeping Marner in Toronto. Tavares will want no part of being the reason the Leafs couldn’t afford to keep the ‘core four’ together.

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