The recent trade between the Calgary Flames and the Florida Panthers, where Matthew Tkachuk was traded for Jonathan Huberdeau, suggests that teams are happy enough to get rid of players who only have one year left on their expiring contracts.

That’s particularly true of winning teams. Better to have a player signed for seven years that a single year if you’re a team that is consistently going to the playoffs. That’s the case for the Panthers. The Panthers were the Presidents’ Trophy-winning team last season, and it looks as if they have the makings of a regular contender for the Stanley Cup.

The Issue with Consistent Winners, They Can’t Keep Reloading

An issue with consistent winners is that they never can get rid of players on expiring contracts. That’s particularly true of those players who are stars. In fact, consistently winning teams actually take on expiring contracts at the trade deadline to give their team an edge for the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs. When they don’t win the Stanley Cup – and only one team does each season – they’re on the hook for those players. Typically they lose them to free agency along with any of the players that they’ve had on their own team who have performed well and have played themselves past the ability of the team to fund them in their next contract.

Where does that leave the Maple Leafs? The Maple Leafs have a large number of players who are on expiring contracts. That means that they will come up for their free agency, either as RFA’s (restricted free agents) or UFA’s (unrestricted free agents), after the 2000 2223 season. What does that leave the Maple Leafs on signing some of the players they’d like to retain? What does the team do then?

Could Players Like Mitch Marner or Auston Matthews Be Moved?

The Panthers chose to trade Huberdeau, who scored 115 points last season and is on a steal of a deal for a contract. In fact, it’s less than half of what the Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner is paid per season. Although moving Huberdeau was probably tough, the Panthers’ management saw it as necessary.

Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Does that mean the Maple Leafs might consider moving Marner, or even more radical a thought, Auston Matthews when he has a season left? Better to move him than lose him, it would seem.

Maple Leafs Fans Should Expect Some Big Changes After This Season

All this suggests that there might be some radical changes in the Maple Leafs’ roster after next season. Just to list a few of the potential free agents after next season. They include Michael Bunting, David Kampf, Pierre Engvall, Alex Kerfoot (if he’s still around), Wayne Simmonds, Adam Gaudette, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. That’s a lot of forwards to lose.

It seems to me that the roster of most winning teams is trending toward having a number of highly-paid stars and a number of cheaper lower-number contracts. Will that be the way of the future?

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