The Toronto Maple Leafs are the undisputed winners of 2018 NHL free agency, as John Tavares’ decision to leave the New York Islanders and sign with his hometown team has many fans in Leafs Nation dreaming of an elusive Stanley Cup. But with Tavares heading north, which man will serve as the captain for the Leafs in the upcoming season? Oddsmakers are on the case.
John Tavares is the -250 favorite to be the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
BetOnline has released odds on which Maple Leaf will don the C in the 2018-19 campaign, with Tavares listed as the overwhelming -250 favorite. Auston Matthews (+175) comes in behind Johnny T, as the option of no captain being named (+750) and any other player (+900) also listed.
The Leafs haven’t had a captain since defenseman Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators in February of 2016, but their current situation is a problem many teams would love to have. Tavares, who served as the leader of the Islanders for the majority of his nine-year stint on Long Island and recently signed a seven-year, $77 million deal with Toronto, is a proven leader, while Matthews is already a superstar at the tender age of 20.
Does Matthews have a case for the captaincy?
Before Tavares’ arrival, many fans and pundits perceived Matthews as the front-runner to wear the C. After all, the Arizona native won the Calder Trophy in his rookie campaign and led Toronto to its second straight playoff appearance last season. According to legendary defenseman Bobby Orr, Tavares won’t be bothered if the Leafs decide to go with Tavares.
“That’s bull about [Matthews] being upset about the captaincy,” Orr told TSN. “That’s so wrong. They’re a good team and they’re going to be a very good team. John puts them closer to their goal. That’s what Auston is concerned about.” Matthews is entering the third and final year of his entry-level contract and is due for a massive pay raise soon.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out, but you won’t hear Leafs fans complaining about the situation any time soon. Toronto is the new Stanley Cup favorites, and suddenly the franchise’s 50-plus year championship drought looks like it could end sooner rather than later. Leafs fans have a big reason to be optimistic, and it’s hard to argue it’s unwarranted.
Who will be the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Odds as of July 10 at BetOnline
- John Tavares -250
- Auston Matthews +175
- No captain named +750
- Any other player +900