John Tavares took a hometown discount to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but his $11-million cap hit could still make it difficult for the team to keep its big three of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.
Matthews and Marner will be restricted free agents next offseason, while Nylander is an RFA right now in need of a new deal. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the trio could make roughly $25 million to $30 million combined annually. Factoring in Tavares' contract, that could be close to half the salary cap for four players.
Despite the difficulties that lay ahead, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is confident he'll be able to keep all three of Matthews, Marner, and Nylander.
"We can, and we will," Dubas told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 31 Thoughts podcast.
If Dubas can lock all three up to long-term contracts, the Leafs will have four of the most skilled forwards in the NHL for years to come.
However, to remain a successful team despite four potentially massive contracts, the Leafs will need to continue to draft players who can be competent NHLers on affordable salaries in order to fill out their roster.
Only time will tell if they can make it work.