Welcome home John Tavares! After a week of uncertainty, the hockey world shook when it was announced that John Tavares would be leaving the Islanders and joining his childhood team the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only did Tavares choose to come home and play for the Maple Leafs but he also left millions on the table in salary to make it possible. Some estimates peg it at almost 27 million left behind, which speaks to Tavares’ belief and confidence in the future of the Maple Leafs and the plan set out by GM Kyle Dubas.
The addition of Tavares on a roster with the likes of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner makes the Maple Leafs’ roster a matchup nightmare. If you are an opposing coach, who do you toss on the ice when Tavares/Marner are on the ice? Who do you match up with Matthews/Nylander or Kadri/Marleau waiting to jumping on?
Any concerns some fans have about scoring with the departures of Tyler Bozak and more specifically James Van Riemsdyk today, are already made up with the addition of Tavares, and in the likes of Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. The later two definitely securing their spots in the top nine after proving they too can produce when given more opportunity as was the case in the playoffs against Boston.
So now that Tavares has come home, what is next for the Maple Leafs? There is still some work to be done to best maximize today’s news. The Maple Leafs still need to round the defence after the likes of Morgan Reilly, Jake Gardiner, Travis Dermott and Ron Hainsey. I was and still am a believer in Nikita Zaitsev, he did have a rough season after his foot injury sidelined him. But there are still some holes to be filled on the right side of the defence.
One solution to the Maple Leafs defensive issues may come in the way of another free agent signing, with the addition of UFA Calvin de Haan to the Maple Leafs defence. There is already some history between de Haan and Tavares during their time with the Islanders and in their junior days with the Oshawa Generals. Could Tavares sway de Haan into joining him in Toronto? Only time will tell, but rumors circling around social media have this as a possibility.
Leafs Nation shook today for all the right reasons, one has to think that there might some more tremors as GM Dubas and his staff round out the Maple Leafs roster before training camp in September. But that is for another day, as Tavares and Leafs Nation celebrate his arrival to the blue and white of the Maple Leafs!