The Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs do make sense as trade partners, but not for Mitch Marner

We all know that the Toronto Maple Leafs are not going to let another first round loss sit well. They're going to make big changes to their core this summer. A core that includes some really high end talent.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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The Blue Jackets could really use another true top-six center, even if it's just for one season.

I'll start with the elephant in the room here: John Tavares has a full no movement clause in his contract. That's a clause he worked hard to earn, and he used his one big ticket free agent opportunity to sign with his hometown Maple Leafs. I'm sure he wants to retire a Leaf, but plans may have changed on their end.

Still, for any trade to take place, they'll have to convince him that it's time to move on. You can see where this is going...

The Blue Jackets were the worst team in the Eastern Conference last year, so you would have to convince Tavares that not only does he have to leave his home club - he has to head to the cellar.

But that's not the full story in Columbus. The Jackets have some really nice pieces, and while I don't see them competing for a Cup any time soon, it's not like Central Ohio is a destination where nobody wants to play. That narrative is mostly gone, and hopefully the newly appointed GM (yet to be named) can continue to improve upon that narrative.

Tavares could be excited about the opportunity to play alongside a Johnny Gaudreau, or to mentor an Adam Fantilli. And, he would still be just a short flight away from Toronto.

Let's assume he's listened to my reasoning, and will waive that NMC to come to Columbus. What do the Jackets offer up for his services?

To Columbus: John Tavares
To Toronto: Elvis Merzlikins + one of Ivan Provorov or Adam Boqvist (their choice)

Why does this deal make sense for Toronto? They only have one NHL goaltender signed after this season (Joseph Woll). Their search for a bona fide #1 continues; could they view Merzlikins as that guy?

Also, they would save money against the cap. Tavares has a cap hit of $11 million dollars next season. Even if they took Merzlikins and Provorov at full value, they save almost $1 million. If they opted for Boqvist, that would be a cool $3m in additional cap space - with two holes filled.

From the Columbus side, we've talked a bit about Elvis needing a change of scenery. I think he could flourish somewhere else, and the Maple Leafs have quite a history of reclamation project attempts in goal.

They also have an alarming shortage of defensemen signed after this season. I would give them their choice of an NHL vet (Provorov) who could step right in to their top-four; or Boqvist, who could be primed for a breakout.

The Jackets would be able to fill two major holes on the Leafs roster, while gaining the exact kind of center they need for their top-six. Tavares wins a lot of faceoffs, still puts up points consistently, and could be the perfect player to help Adam Fantilli transition further into his role as this team's heir apparent #1 center.

It might even make sense for Tavares himself. He could put up big numbers in a lower pressure situation, playing alongside either Johnny Gaudreau or Patrik Laine. This could boost his market value, resulting in one more big payday in 2025.

Or, if nothing else, the Jackets could soak up his experience until the trade deadline, eat up a bunch of his salary, then flip him to a contender at next year's trade deadline.

When it all comes down to it, Tavares probably wouldn't have any interest leaving Toronto. Especially not for Columbus. But, this is the kind of deal that could really make sense for the Blue Jackets, if it came about.