Maple Leafs’ 2024 offseason is off to a very confusing start

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
15 days ago
While ‘everything is on the table’ for the Toronto Maple Leafs heading into the 2024 offseason, to this point, the first course has yet to be served.
Yes, it’s still very early in the offseason, however for the Maple Leafs, a team with aspirations for major changes, it doesn’t appear their goals are going to be as easily accomplished as originally hoped. From the back-and-forth reports from some of the league’s biggest insiders to the talks about re-signing a couple of pending free agents, it’s become quite confusing and tough to put a finger on just how GM Brad Treliving is going to institute major change.
Let’s start with Mitch Marner. There have already been some reports of him wanting to play out his contract, and we’ve seen Treliving come out and make it clear Marner has all the say. Needless to say, the back-and-forth has been and will continue to be intriguing to watch this summer.
Treliving pointed out in a recent conversation with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, that he’s open to making the team better but he’s certainly not going to give Marner away for the sake of following through on the desired changes. It’s probably smart for a GM not to just give away an elite forward and Selke nominee:
Marner’s full no-movement clause is going to play a much bigger factor than some are given credit for. He holds all the cards, regardless of the messaging from management. He grew up a Leafs fan, he’s from the area, and he’s used to all the noise. He’s played through it for almost a decade. He’s lived it for a very long time. He controls his own destiny, one that could involve living out his dream for at least one more season.

John Tavares Likely Staying Put

According to Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic, the Maple Leafs have not approached John Tavares about waiving his no-movement clause. The Leafs captain has one season left on his deal at $11 million against the cap and for now, appears to be staying put in Toronto. So Marner controls his own destiny and Tavares hasn’t been approached about a trade; what exactly is going to change heading into next season?
Tavares may make a lot of money and not necessarily be ‘worth’ the entire $11 million if comparing him to other players around the league, but he’s still producing and one of the best leaders in hockey. Yes, it hasn’t gone exactly as planned since he arrived, but the one constant thing you’ll hear from Tavares’ teammates and the organization is how professional the Oakville, ON native carries himself and how much of an impact he has on the rest of the team.
Tavares is a great captain, and he also happens to be a really good hockey player. Obviously, $11 million annually is not something to expect on Tavares’ next contract. If he winds up sticking around Toronto for a couple more seasons, I’d expect an AAV of around $5 million would be a figure that could be mutually beneficial for both sides. For now, he’s set to make another $11 against the cap, holds a full no-movement clause and while management preached major changes, to this point, he doesn’t appear to be the odd man out.

What Exactly Will Change?

The writing is on the wall and it appears Ilya Samsonov will be replaced. The same can be said about TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano. Ilya Lyubushkin is another defenseman whose future looks in doubt in Toronto, meanwhile, Joel Edmundson, Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi appear to be candidates to return.
With Auston Matthews and William Nylander untouchable, the one player who hasn’t been mentioned to this point is Morgan Rielly. The only problem is that moving Rielly would create a much bigger hole than the Leafs could handle on their blue line and regardless of the return, they’d need to find at least three more defensemen and frankly, don’t have the resources to do so. So to this point, Rielly appears to be safe. So much for the major changes?
Nevertheless, the Maple Leafs offseason is off to a head-scratching start. While Craig Berube is the new bench boss and there continue to be changes to the coaching staff, as far as the roster goes, Treliving and company are going to be in tough to check off everything on their wish list. ‘Everything is on the table’, but it takes two to tango and from the sounds of it, their own players don’t feel like dancing.

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