Toronto Maple Leafs vs Canadian Dollar: Salary Cap Outlook


The Toronto Maple Leafs are not in a good position with the salary cap moving forward beyond this season.

Toronto has nearly $53M tied up into 13 players for next season and with the free-fall of the Canadian Dollar they might be handcuffed even more.

Gary Bettman addressed the future of the salary cap for next season during the All-Star weekend and the projected $73M ceiling may be a pipe dream.

"“That would be 73 [million] at 88. At 82 cents for the rest of the year, the cap would be 72.2 [million], and at 80 cents, the cap would be 71.7 [million]. These are not, in the context of a $70-million-plus cap, dramatic numbers. As of Friday I think the Canadian dollar was 81 cents. Nobody can project exactly where it’s going, but the point that I’m making is you’re not going to see a dramatic difference. The cap is computed based on currency on a daily basis.”"

The difference between $73M and $71.7M might not be of significance for a team like Arizona or Ottawa, but it’s a huge gap for a team like the Maple Leafs.

Toronto is going to be defining a clear direction for the franchise in the coming months and it will require certain pieces to be moved if they’re going to see success early in the process.

As it stands now, here are the players under contract and their cap hit for 2015-2016.

[table id=37 /]

When you add the $200K retained in the Carl Gunnarsson trade and the $1.833M in the Tim Gleason buyout you get a total of roughly $52.7M.

There’s nothing ideal about the current state of the Leafs from a financial perspective.

Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Bernier both need new contracts prior to next season and will both be due for a raise.

In a perfect world you would get Kadri for $4M and Bernier for $5M. That would bring the Leafs to $61.7M against the salary cap.

If the cap ceiling is under the earlier projected total of $73M you can see just how tight it’s getting for Toronto, and both of those perfect world contracts for Kadri/Bernier are likely to increase which will lower the remaining cap room.

The cap constraints for the Maple Leafs are another reason William Nylander could line up in the top-six next year – whether it’s rushing him into the league or not.

Dave Nonis, or whoever will run the team after this season, has some serious work to do with the Leafs financials with regards to the salary cap.

As much as everyone would love to see David Clarkson somewhere else it’s a pipe dream at this point with how much term is left on his deal.

Joffrey Lupul, although often injured, is an easier sell than Clarkson because he has less term and when he’s healthy he produces at a pretty solid rate.

That’s one area for cap dump.

Another option that needs to be entertained is dealing James Reimer. $2.3M is a lot of cap space for a goaltender that is strictly a backup. There’s no chance, realistically, that Reimer plays a split amount of time so he’s essentially dead cap space for Toronto.

Trading Reimer and adding a $1M backup hands the Leafs a much needed boost of $1.3M in space for next season.

Another avenue that might need to be traveled down is dealing Roman Polak.

Polak has some of the worst underlying statistics on the Leafs blueline and carries a hit of $2.75M.

If The Leafs can’t move some of the hefty contracts (like Lupul or Clarkson) they are going to be forced to play moneyball while they start to rebuild – or re-tool – the roster to become a playoff team.

Trading UFA’s like Franson, Winnik or Santorelli at this years deadline will be good for obtaining draft picks but it won’t help the financial state beyond this season – and that’s where the real problem lies.

Toronto will be struggling to ice a team much like this seasons let alone fill holes – like a top four defender/top six center – if there aren’t positive moves made financially.

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