There’s no denying that the Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the best collections of young offensive talent in the NHL. With players like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Morgan Reilly all under 24 years old, the team looks to be in good shape for years to come. That is, if they can keep the core together.
Nylander is due a new contract this upcoming offseason, with Matthews and Marner to follow. Those three players will take up a HUGE amount of cap space should the Leafs look to re-up them longterm. Reilly is signed longterm, as are other key contributors like Frederik Andersen, Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman and Nikita Zaitsev.
So… something’s got to give, right? What if the Leafs simply can’t afford to keep their core together? It already seems to be a foregone conclusion that pending unrestricted free-agents James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak will depart the team either via trade or via free-agency sometime in the near future.
So, if push comes to shove and the Leafs are forced to choose two of three, who do they go with? Matthews and Nylander? Or Matthews and Marner? It’s unthinkable that they’d trade Matthews… but will he cost so much that the team is forced to sacrifice one of their other young guns? In this scenario, who would you cut bait with, Nylander or Marner?