Five teams are expected to meet with coveted free agent John Tavares this week, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are believed to be amongst the lucky clubs who get to make a pitch at the New York Islanders captain and star forward.
Yes, it does sound worrisome from a financial stand point to hear that the Leafs might make a monster move on Tavares. After all, Toronto currently has just a shade under $25 million in salary cap space for next season and they still need to come to terms with their own free agent, William Nylander, this summer. There is also an added layer to the financial puzzle, one that seems to matter even more. The Leafs need to have enough when next summer rolls around and they need to re-sign Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
TSN Senior hockey writer Frank Seravalli believes the Leafs could shock everyone and present Tavares with the following offer: a one-year deal at the new maximum salary of $15.9 million. No player in the NHL’s salary cap era has ever pinged the max salary, which is 20 per cent of next season’s $79.5 million limit.
"That type of contract is not without total consequence, though, as it would mean that extensions for Matthews and Marner would have to wait until next summer because of tagging constraints. The idea of “tagging space” is complex, but explained simply, teams cannot exceed this season’s current salary cap of $79.5 million in cap commitments for the season beyond (2019-20)," writes Seravalli.
According from the information provided by David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, there is a massive offer already on the table for the Islanders captain. It was reported that while Tavares has decided that he will speak with teams other than the Islanders during the free agency interview period, the Islanders have made him an offer on Saturday. Once again, according to Pagnotta, the offer is believed to be an eight-year contract, worth $88 million.
Toronto could manage this crazy offer if some specific moves are respected. Seravalli explains it on TSN:
"If Tavares ends up being as strong a fit as the Leafs think he may be, he could sign a seven-year extension, then, as early as Jan. 1, 2019 - to match the same eight-year term able to be offered now only by the Islanders. That new extension, which would come into play in 2019-20 when new deals kick in for Matthews and Marner, could creatively "account" for the max money paid in Year 1 - and push the salary cap hit down to make it more manageable for Toronto when it matters most. Teams would cry foul with cap circumvention, but it's perfectly legal so long as those parameters were not agreed to if/when an original one-year deal was signed."
Will the Leafs woo Tavares with this offer?