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John Tavares

Nathan Denette/ Canadian Press

Do The Leafs Regret Signing John Tavares?

John Tavares
Do the Leafs regret signing John Tavares? If you gave Kyle Dubas truth serum, he would undo the Tavares contract yesterday. (Nathan Denette/ Canadian Press)

Do The Leafs Regret Signing John Tavares?

Yes! Oh, sorry, jumped the gun there. Of course they do. Every day goes by the Islander fans’ smile grows bigger every day at the sight of another Leafs playoff failure. We’re now heading into year five of the John Tavares experiment and it has not resulted in a single playoff series victory for Toronto. If you gave Kyle Dubas truth serum, he would take a time machine and tell Tavares he’s not interested in signing him.

Tavares, 31, isn’t a bad player. The guy was the number one overall pick in 2009 for a reason. The Maple Leafs decided to pay Tavares $11 million for a reason. It’s just an egregious overpay and has probably permanently hamstrung the franchise for the foreseeable future.

Again, it should be noted Tavares is a good player. 76 points in 79 games is nothing to sneeze at. Neither is his 60.6% faceoff win percentage this past year which is one of the best marks in the league. Tavares’ ability to steal possessions already makes him valuable. The problem is dissecting where his point production comes from.

26 of Tavares’ points came on the powerplay. Again, that’s fine and dandy minus the part that Tavares really isn’t doing his part outside of that. The Leafs have the most electric powerplay unit in the NHL. If you want to credit Tavares with winning some of those faceoffs, be my guest. At the end of the day, you’re going to pocket a lot of points skating on a line with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. If you needed further proof of this, just peep the Calder voting. Michael Bunting is a finalist at age 26 simply because he skates with those two.

Tavares is a second line center. Auston Matthews deals with the top opposing pair. Tavares gets paid $11 million per year to dominate that second line. It’s not like he has no help either. William Nylander is a very respectable goal scorer. Maybe not always respectable but Nylander is far from the biggest problem on the Leafs. Maybe peep an $11 million player who has one of the lowest goal scoring rates in the NHL. Sorry, not sorry, that can’t happen.

The problem is we’re really starting to see Tavares age. Yes, he can still be a playmaker and is great at recovering possession of the puck. Tavares has never been the fleetest of foot but now he just looks slow compared to all of these aliens on the ice. Can we just be honest? As an offensive threat, what does he really bring to the table? Are we sure he isn’t just a more talented version of James Van Riemsdyk providing a spark as the net front presence?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how Tavares keeps producing on the powerplay. His top tier teammates do all the work while Tavares gets in position to tip home the rebound as a goalie screener. I’m not suggesting there isn’t an art to it. I just need a hell of a lot more than that from an $11 million per year player. How many more years are we away from Tavares being a full Patric Hörnqvist alter ego as an old guy who just sits in front of the net?

When you’re getting Barkov money, I want Barkov production. We can point the finger at whoever we want for the Leafs failures. Make no mistake about it, that list from a personnel perspective starts and ends with John Tavares. The bottom line is Tavares is a really good player but this contract is an abomination and it’s only getting worse.

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