JB7 wrote:All that I'm saying is I think the Leafs are being prudent in their planning, and continuing to lay the foundation for future success. Matthews does not necessarily need to be a part of it, and if the risk is him signing an offer sheet this summer (just over 8 months away), then the prudent thing would be to plan alternative scenario's.
The scenario's are:
1) re-sign him (which could mean matching a max contract)
2) let him sign with another team and collect the 4 draft picks
3) trade him before the deadline to a team that will match whatever offer he gets, to have more control over the pieces you would receive in return
If Matthews was going to sign a lower deal to stay on the team and maintain it as a contender, I would have thought he would have signed this summer (year before his RFA), like McDavid did. Why take the risk of suffering a long-term injury, without financial security, if you are intent on signing a reasonable deal anyways.
Back to the original point I made at the start, I think signing Tavares was the Leafs choosing scenario 2 or 3. Why sign Tavares to an $11M deal, if you knew in the summer it was going to possibly take matching a substantial deal for Matthews to keep him, especially when you already had a decent, cost-effective option for a #2 center in Kadri.
Nothing you've stated as far as the Leafs options are wrong, it's the premise that you're working under that is making a ton of assumptions and jumping to making rash decisions.
First and foremost, the Leafs sucked for 10 years, they finally realized they needed a true rebuild, they did and land a guy that is a potential all-time great and 3 years later you're saying due to contractual situation they should just get rid of him because they don't need him to contend?
They absolutely need him to contend. You need as much talent as possible and as good as Tavares is, he came here to play with these guys, he's not going to be happy if we start jettisoning guys away for money reasons. Money and cap has to be considered in all this, i'm not saying they don't need to be but you don't trade a Matthews at 21-22 who is on the way to being a HOF guy and all-time great Leaf. You jettison guys like Marner and Nylander long before you trade Matthews.
Second, you're working under the premise that he didn't sign this summer so he's not willing to accept less. We don't know that. We can assume that he definitely wants to be paid as the best player on the team and he should be paid that. Right now, the Leafs are balancing 3 contracts at the same time, the first priority was Nylander and that hasn't happened yet. What happens with him locks in what the Leafs do with Matthews and Marner. If they sign Matthews this summer to a big deal, that leaves them in a tough position when dealing with Nylander because his agent now has a benchmark to work off of for the Leafs young guys. The Leafs and Matthews probably have a framework of a deal in place but one that has room still to finalize. Matthews is taking an injury risk by not signing now but this is not some indication he wants his 16 million hell or highwater that you are making it out to be and that the Leafs need to force a decision now. As you said, they are being prudent, they want to keep all three and that's their goal right now. How they do it though is very tough and takes finesse working around all the angles. Right now, they want Nylander to come in lower because it improves their cap situation but it also shows the other two taking less to keep the team together is something guys are buying in to. All three are going to get paid very handsomely.
Nylander is likely the odd man out though right now. The Leafs offense is rolling, Marner and Matthews are driving up their price and the Leafs my just decide to trade Nylander/Gardiner in a package to get an elite defensemen, then the other two get paid. There's a lot of moving parts.
Trading Matthews now, or discussing drafting Laine over him due to the contract crunch makes no sense though.
As for your last part of signing Tavares, I'm sure there's some hedging there in case Matthews somehow does leave. But the point of signing him was to get more talent to go after a cup, not some cap planning move. Kadri is not a second line Centre, he's 2/3 and best suited sitting in that third C spot. The leafs have the best 3 C group in the league, that's what signing Tavares was about.
First - I never stated any idea about drafting Laine over Matthews. You always draft the best talent. Drafting Matthews was the right move. Likewise, moving him now also might be the right move.
You don't need the most talented player to win the cup. If that were the case, Edmonton would have at least made the playoffs last year. You need one of the best rosters of players, goaltending and luck (minimal injuries).
Chicago did not dominate the league, and win three cups because Toews and Kane were the absolute best players in the game. They won because those two were some of the top players in the game, and their roster was strong, including their core 5 (Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook and Crawford). They have been on the downswing the last couple of years because 3 of their core 5 players are aging out (Keith, Seabrook and Crawford). Which also plays into, you need your players peaking at the right time.
In terms of money, I think Matthews wants nothing less than the maximum amount he can negotiate. We are talking about a player who for his last year of junior hockey, before the draft, played in Europe so he could get paid. He realizes his talent, and is looking to maximize the money he can make with that talent.
In terms of how you go about signing your top players, as I said before, you focus on your best first and then go down the line (like Edmonton did with McDavid and Draisaitl). You lock up the players that matter most first, Matthews, Marner, then Nylander, if there is money left. You don't work in reverse.
With all of the messages coming out from Leafs management or media controlled by them, it is all about reading between the lines.
When Shanahan came out publicly with the comments about taking less to win, usually coming out publicly to challenge the players means things are not going well behind the scenes. Why embarrass your players publicly with comments like that, unless you are sure they are going to take less to win. If they are not, it just paints them as greedy, which is probably the strategy.
And the way the players responded ("our agents will deal with the negotiations") is classic we won't be pushed around.
I think the way the media has been talking up Marner's value, is setting him up to look like he'll eventually take 'less' to win. Last year folks probably had Marner and Nylander pegged at about $6M per year (like Ehlers). They have been talking up Marner's value to like $10M, which means if he signs for $8M or $9M, he still looks like he is taking less.
I think the plan was to sign Marner as well this past offseason. It was also probably the reason they started Marner on the 4th line last year, to suppress his scoring totals, leading into this past summer. They did the same thing with Kadri and Rielly, before they signed their RFA deals.
The season before Kadri signed was when they were all over him about his attitude, combined with the lack of talent around him that kept his numbers suppressed. In 2013-14 he had 20 goals and 50 pts; the following two seasons he had under
20 goals and under
50 pts, which led into him signing April 2016. Then after signing, the following season he is all of a sudden playing with talent and on the power play and producing 30+ goal seasons and over 55 to 61 pt seasons.
With Rielly, the year before he signed his RFA deal, they essentially kept him off the powerplay to keep his numbers down going into negotiations. The message at the time was Rielly needed to work on his 'defensive' responsibilities. They kept it like that for a year after he signed (April 2016) as well, probably to not make it look as obvious as what they did to Kadri. In 2015-16 and 2016-17, Rielly has only 6 and 4 assists on the powerplay. In 2017-18, when he becomes the primary quarterback on the powerplay, it goes up to 24 assists.
Based on Kypreos' comments that other day about Nashville being a potential target, possibly considering moving Subban (Kypreos' was talking in the context of Nylander; but no way Nashville moves Subban for Nylander), my guess is the Leafs management is floating the idea of trying to go after Subban (because there is probably nothing that comes out of Kypreos' mouth that is not spoon fed to him by Leafs management).
Nashville presents an interesting scenario:
- Matthews, Nylander and Gardiner for Subban, Johansen and two 1st round picks (to help account for the age difference)
Subban is locked into 4 remaining years at a respectable number $9M (which takes him through age 29 to 33). His deal comes up the same year Rielly's deal comes up. So you could see a shift in the cap hit from Subban to Rielly, as Rielly gets paid more for his prime years (age 28+), while Subban could sign an extension that front ends the money, and lowers the cap hit, keeping him around for age 33+ and beyond, until he develops a long-term injury, to get him off the books in the final years of his deal.
Johansen's deal is also fairly reasonable for a 2nd line center at $8M per year for 7 more years, taking him to age 33 (ends the same year as Tavares' deal, who would be 35 at the end of his deal). So for the next 7 years your 1st and 2nd line centers are locked up. The 3rd line center (Kadri) is locked up for another 4 years, at which time they would not extend him - Kadri will be looking for a huge pay day at age 32 to make up for his current under value contract.
This would leave money available to give Marner and Kapanen long-term deals, and possibly keep Marleau for next year, as well as extend him another year or two, if healthy enough. Or they could look to another veteran looking to win a cup in the back-end of his career.
Essentially, the core would be locked up: Tavares, Marner, Johansen, Subban and Rielly for a long time, and hopefully they can find another goaltender after Andersen's deal expires in 3 years, to continue the contender status (maybe Malcolm Subban might find himself a UFA 3 years from now?).
There would be no drop-off in the powerplay, as Subban slots in beside Rielly, with Tavares, Marner and Kadri up front.