There were four days of interviews. There was all kinds of speculation. There were about eight teams really in the mix. In the end, the biggest prize of the free agency period, forward John Tavares, left Long Island for a return home to Toronto, where he signed a mammoth deal, 7 years, $77 million.
The Leafs were only reportedly in the mix for more of a short-term deal, but really surprised everyone, when they came away with a longer-term offer and likely less money than what other teams were offering, to get the services of the 1st overall in the 2009 entry draft.
The 27-year old took full advantage of his first year of unrestricted free agency, capitalizing on a season that was pretty impressive on the island. Tavares finished the season with 37 goals and 84 points in all 82 games, which was only good enough for 21st overall in pool scoring, 16th among all forwards.
The Leafs, who are already holding onto some top end talent on their roster, add a huge franchise player in Tavares and they really cemented themselves as a potential favourite for the playoffs next season, on paper at least.
|John Tavares||11.000||Morgan Rielly||5.000||Frederik Andersen||5.000|
|Patrick Marleau||6.250||Nikita Zaitsev||4.500||Curtis McElhinney||0.850|
|Nathan Horton||5.300||Jake Gardiner||4.050|
|Nazem Kadri||4.500||Ron Hainsey||3.000|
|Matt Martin||2.500||Connor Carrick||1.300|
|Zach Hyman||2.250||Calle Rosen||0.925|
|Connor Brown||2.100||Travis Dermott||0.863|
|Auston Matthews||0.925||Martin Marincin||0.800|
The salary cap number for the 2019 season isn't really the biggest of concerns today, as the Leafs had plenty of space going into this summer, but the 2020 season, after extensions for Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and others will have to be done as well. You know that they won't come cheaply and it will be a push to get all of that talent signed on and agreeable moving forward.
I currently have the Leafs in with 21 players signed on for the 2020 season, with $22.2 million in cap space against the 2019 ceiling. Matthews, Marner, Jake Gardiner, Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander still to have new cap numbers added to that list.