Vaive was selected fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.
In 1980, the Canucks traded Vaive, along with Bill Derlago, to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Dave “Tiger” Williams and Jerry Butler. In Toronto, Vaive and Derlago were teamed with Pat Hickey, and Derlago became Vaive’s setup man. Vaive scored prolifically with the Leafs, becoming the first 50-goal scorer in franchise history, surpassing that threshold three times. He recorded 54 goals in 1981-82, 51 goals in 1982-83, and 52 goals in 1983-84. He also served as captain of the Maple Leafs from 1982 to 1986.