Rumor: Tavares AND Karlsson to Leafs

The price is enormous, but it would turn Toronto into a perennial contender.

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Now here's a crazy one to ponder on over your Saturday morning coffee.

Two separate rumours circulating since the beginning of the season have had John Tavares and Erik Karlsson being traded away from their current clubs, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been linked to both players on more than one occasion.

The price for either would be astronomical, especially when you consider the Ottawa Senators would demand a premium from Toronto to trade away the best defenseman in the world to their most hated rivals.

But it hasn't stopped teams from doing the dance before, and while the chances are extremely slim, controversial writer Howard Berger of Between The Posts doesn't believe it's out of the realm of possibility.

So let's entertain his wild notion.

The first thing that Berger mentions is the fact that the Oilers have several expiring contracts coming off the books this summer. With the salary cap rising around $5 million in the offseason, this puts Toronto in a very interesting position.

Now you might say - sure, they are losing some contracts, but we still have to re-sign William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews in the upcoming year. Don't kid yourself into thinking the Leafs would get out of this without losing one of those guys should a trade for one of Tavares and/or Karlsson go down (let's remove Matthews from the equation).

It's unclear if in Berger's grand scheme, this all happens this year. A couple factors come into play. Doing it this trade deadline would require two massive trades for two top players in the NHL. It's basically unheard of and would cost the team dearly. The alternative is to wait out this season for Tavares to hit free agency, which is turning into more and more of a real possibility, as the Isles find themselves in a precarious position in the playoff race.

Karlsson will seek max money, and as much as he says he loves Ottawa, it's hard to envision Eugene Melnyk ponying up the capital necessary to lock him in long term. Even if he did - it would completely cripple the Senators' chances of building around him as they are typically not a salary cap team.

So that leaves the option of acquiring Tavares this summer, giving the Leafs an incredible one-two-three punch down the middle, then signing Karlsson the year after, making 2019-20 the year Toronto becomes one of the top team's in the NHL. In this scenario, no trade is necessary, and if Lou Lamoriello (or whoever is GM at this point) plays his cards right, he could keep the team largely in tact, without sacrificing any of its young star players.

As crazy as this idea sounds, it really isn't out of the realm of possibility. To see it happening this season, or the next is probably a pipe dream, but these two players could be Toronto Maple Leafs property in 2 years. Of course, you could replace Karlsson with Drew Doughty or Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the equation still remains about the same.

Of course, you may be reading all this, and just feeling like these guys:

Just never say never.