The Maple Leafs win big in landing John Tavares

With the market set to open Sunday, we Edmonton Oilers Jersey sort the players available into four groups: best bets, smart gambles, boom or busts, and bad investments.
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Coach Mike Babcock says Auston Matthews will remain in the middle of the first line, so Tavares will be the No. 2 center, but the Leafs will really have a pair of top lines in reality. Combined with Nazem Kadri at No. 3, the Maple Leafs challenge the Pittsburgh Penguins for the best center trio in the league. With Tavares carrying a max seven-year deal at a hefty $11 million per year, Toronto will have some finagling to do in the next year or so to make this work. The Leafs had the cap space for 2018-19 to add Tavares into the fold — the deal includes some creative structuring — but with Matthews due for a new contract next summer, Toronto has problems in 2019-20 and beyond.

Overall grade: A
For the Maple Leafs, this was a no-brainer. The fact that they didn’t have to do something wacky in signing Tavares is gravy — this is a straight-up hockey deal that makes the rich richer. Of course, the Maple Leafs are going to have to upgrade their defense eventually; Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey both become UFAs next summer, and it will be hard for Toronto to keep both (especially Gardiner) at market price. But to rise above the many, many suitors and win the ultimate free-agency sweepstakes is unequivocally a win for Toronto.

Owner Bill Foley has insisted he wants all free agents to jibe with the culture his team established in its inaugural season. Stastny can buy in as a Golden Misfit, perhaps seeking redemption after many clamored that his previous contract with the St. Louis Blues (four-years, $28 million) was a gross overpayment. At $6.5 million AAV, he’ll have to live up this one, as well. Stastny will no doubt help Alex Tuch blossom as a top-six forward in this league, and should James Neal Authentic Tony Gwynn Jersey stay, that’s a strong second line. Haula bumps down to the third line, and overall, the Knights are better.

Does this deal make sense?
Someone was bound to overpay for Stastny on the barren free-agent market, so it makes sense that the team with the most cap space to play around with gets it done. That said, $6.5 million is an awful lot for Stastny.