Marleau doesn’t have to be moved. They’ll have both Marleau and Horton expiring at the same time, which is almost a combined $12M. That’s going to give them a ton of relief and enough room for their core.
The tougher part is the year in-between, where Mathews, Marner, and Nylander all are making 7+. Moving Marleau isn't necessarily required, but it likely means other salary/players are on their way out, or you're getting quite the hometown discount from those three.
Here's where I think Tavares stands in the thinking process.
- I can win a Cup with at least five of the six franchises, and potentially the sixth (NYI)
- I will make loads of money wherever I go, so while the tax issues are nice, there are ways around it
BUT there are three key questions we don't know the answer to:
1) Does Tavares want to be "the guy"? If he does, then NYI and Toronto become the top destinations. If not, the other four become much more appealing.
2) Is Tavares willing to sign a short term deal? If he does, this favors Tampa, Toronto, Boston, and Dallas. If not, then it favors the Islanders and the Sharks.
3) Does Tavares want to be in a location where hockey is towards the top of the food chain? If he does, then Toronto and Boston make sense. Otherwise, San Jose, NYI, Tampa, and Dallas work.
1Y, 2Y, 3Y -> Toronto
1N, 2Y, 3Y -> Boston
1Y, 2N, 3N -> New York Islanders
1N, 2Y, 3N -> Dallas and Tampa
1N, 2N, 3N -> San Jose
I've gotten the indication that the answer to each of those questions is "No". Therefore, San Jose is the team I would expect him to go to.