NHL Rumour Report: Leafs to break up Core Four this summer

Rumblings suggest the Maple Leafs are ready for a major shakeup.

- The big money "Core Four" of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander could be playing their last games together this season.
- Rumours indicate there is very likely to be an offseason trade of one of those players, regardless of whether or not the team gets over the hump and has some semblance of success in the postseason.
- There is a growing appetite in the organization to change up the approach to roster construction, which has relied heavily on four very highly paid forwards and a rotating cast of support players for the past few seasons. But with no playoff round wins to show for it and a stagnant salary cap, a shakeup is believed by some to be in order.
- Out of those four, Auston Matthews seems the least likely to move. John Tavares has a no trade clause, so he's likely staying put as well.
- Could it be Mitch Marner, paid a handsome 10.9 million a season through 2025? Although he has one of the biggest contracts in the league, he has grown into a two-way force. It's hard to imagine Toronto winning that trade.

- Which leaves us with William Nylander, who makes a decent 6.9 million a year through 2024, but has struggled to find a level of two way consistency in the early stages of his career. Head Coach Sheldon Keefe has bristled with Nylander for his sometimes lackadaisical defensive play. 

- Nylander's name has swirled in the rumour mill for the past few offseasons, but it's never felt like a trade has been close to happening. Could that change this summer?

- And if Toronto hopes to retain Auston Matthews beyond 2024 - when he is slated for unrestricted free agency - there's going to have to be some money coming off the books. The salary cap is not expected to take any major jump until at least 2025.

-  Regardless of what happens this playoffs, it sure sounds like change is afoot in Toronto.


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