We are not trying to jinx the Toronto Maple Leafs here. We are simply looking ahead at what the summer might bring them. And to be honest, a win in Game 7 here tonight against the Boston Bruins would most likely increase their chances to make a huge run on the free agent market in the offseason. According to many insiders, notably Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun and insider Pierre LeBrun, the Maple Leafs are getting ready to make a run at a huge player on the free-agency market this summer.
Leafs fans, get excited!
Simmons believes the Maple Leafs “will take a run at centre John Tavares in free agency,” though perhaps not as aggressively as they did two years ago with Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. Simmons claims the Leafs were so aggressive with Stamkos that he opted instead to return to the Lightning. The mistake will not be made again with Tavares.
"Leafs were so over the top in their presentation to Stamkos he made his decision about returning to Tampa Bay immediately after the Leafs laid it on thick for him …," Simmons writes in his notes.
Furthermore, Chris Nichols cited LeBrun telling Montreal’s TSN 690 he doesn’t rule out the Leafs surprising us with a bid for Tavares if he hits the open market this summer.
“But you never know. One thing about the Leafs under this regime is that they’ve surprised people. No one saw them going after Patrick Marleau, right. So who knows."
It is not the first time the Maple Leafs are linked to Tavares, especially more now that James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak are expected to hit the free-agent market after tremendous seasons. Many doubt that the Leafs and general manager Lou Lamoriello will opt to spend so much money on the most coveted free agent when there are still superstar Auston Matthews and top forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander to re-sign in the near future.
If Toronto is being too focused on Tavares, they might fail to keep important players in the fold...
The Leafs won't be the only team looking to lure Tavares in. The Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers are also said to be looking to convince Tavares to play for them. LeBrun also believes the Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks will be aggressive in the running for the New York Islanders captain.
“But if I were to handicap it, and this is just me analyzing everything around the league, I just feel like teams like Vegas and San Jose would be more where I’d look. But again, that’s based on nothing. I mean at this point, other than the fact that I know for a fact San Jose will make a play and that I feel it would be up George McPhee’s alley in Vegas with all of their cap room and the allure of Vegas. But again, I mean lots of teams are going to want to get in on it, as you know.”
Clearly, your guess is as good as mine.