Opinion: Possible Salary Fix for Maple Leafs


To everyone who follows the Leafs or hockey for that matter knows they are quite in a pickle this offseason after the contracts to forwards Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander were handed out. As things stand right now, pre-free agency the Leafs have just over $3,000,000 in cap space. This will not help re-sign RFA’s such as Mitch Marner, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen who are due significant raises.

So what exactly can the Maple Leafs do this offseason? Well, there are a couple scenarios and they involve trades and using NHL ready defenseman that currently sits on the Marlies squad. Even though Nylander is a fantastic player it’s not unlikely to see him moved this off-season or at the draft. What should have happened was GM Kyle Dubas moving him during his contract lockout while his stock was still through the roof. If the Leafs can swing a deal for the young forward that will remove over $6,000,000 in cap space. However, that is still not enough. Another player on the chopping block they could very well move if the team retained some salary is forward Patrick Marleau who also has a hit of over $6,000,000.

Also, the aging Ron Hainsey will be an unrestricted UFA this off-season so it would be best if Toronto didn’t bring him back. Another UFA defenseman for the club is Jake Gardiner who was making over $4,000,000. Not resigning these two players and bringing up the likes of Justin Holl, Calle Rosen, and/or Timothy Liljegren may just help since Igor Ozhiganov has already stated he will be returning to the KHL for the 2019-20 season.

Here is a look at the Leafs roster currently: Cap Hit - $75,616,474 - Cap Space - $3,883,526

Zach Hyman – John Tavares – Mitch Marner (RFA)
Andreas Johnsson (RFA) – Auston Matthews – Kasperi Kapanen (RFA)
Connor BrownNazem Kadri – William Nylander
Trevor MooreFrederik GauthierTyler Ennis (UFA)
Nic Petan

Morgan Rielly – Ron Hainsey (UFA)
Jake Gardiner (UFA) – Nikita Zaitsev
Travis DermottJake Muzzin

Frederik Andersen
Garret Sparks

Now what I have done in my CapFriendly team was I had traded Patrick Marleau along with retained salary back to San Jose in exchange for prospects D Jacob Middleton and F Lukas Radil. Another move I had made was trading William Nylander to the New Jersey Devils for forward Joey Anderson, prospect F Michael McLeod, a 2019 2nd Round Pick, and a 2020 4th Round Pick. I left Ron Hainsey, Jake Gardiner, and Tyler Ennis unsigned. The reason Ennis was left unsigned is that Marlies forward Jeremy Bracco could very well crack the fourth line next season.

I also resigned forwards Mitch Marner to a six-year $10,000,000 contract because it’s highly unlikely he receives anything less than $9,500,000. Kasperi Kapanen was signed to a four year $3,800,000 deal while linemate Andreas Johnsson was inked to a four year $4,500,000 deal. After these moves, the Leafs now have $4,260,167 in cap space heading into the first pre-season game in September. This leaves enough for a solid pickup at the trade deadline or during the season if a long term injury occurs. Below is the updated Leafs depth chart for their NHL roster. Cap Hit - $75,739,833 - Cap Space - $4,260,167

Zach Hyman – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
Andreas Johnsson – Auston Matthews – Kasperi Kapanen
Connor Brown – Nazem Kadri – Joey Anderson
Trevor Moore – Frederik Gauthier – Jeremy Bracco

Morgan Rielly – Jake Muzzin
Travis Dermott – Nikita Zaitsev
Calle Rosen – Justin Holl

Frederik Andersen
Garret Sparks

What are your thoughts on these moves and what do you think the Leafs should do moving forward?

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