Toronto Maple Leafs to (Probably) Lose a Third of Their Team

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be making some big offseason changes.

The Salary Cap is going up, but the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to make some big changes in order to sign all their best players.

It could result in losing up to a third of their roster.

But in the end, I believe the Leafs team will be better for it, because it pays to have as many top-line players as possible.

Summer Changes

Everyone keeps asking how the Toronto Maple Leafs are supposed to survive and flourish when they are (or will be) paying three players north of ten million dollars.

No one has really employed a true “studs and duds” salary cap structure before, so I understand why it’s easier for the media to just create stories about losing Mitch Marner than it is to try and understand what the Leafs are doing.

I believe that the Leafs have concluded that the best way to spend the salary cap is to pay as many top line players as possible, cut out mid-range players, and pay as many players as possible near the league minimum.

Based on the theory that in the NHL there are first line players, and then everyone else is practically interchangeable, the Leafs will alter how teams go about spending their salary cap money. (Because it’s going to be very successful and everyone will copy it).

Basically, the proper way to spend money in a cap system in a professional league is to spend money on your first line players and pay everyone else the minimum.

How will the Leafs pay Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Nylander, Johnsson, and Kapanen?  It’s easy.  You get rid of everyone who makes over the league minimum and isn’t or can’t potentially become a first line player.

That means Connor Brown, Zach Hyman, Nikita Zaitsev, Patrick Marleau and Ron Hainsey, are gone.  Jake Gardiner is worth paying, but he might not be back regardless.  (You can’t keep everyone).

They will be replaced with whoever can win a job from the likes of Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman, Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, Yegor Korshkov, Jeremy Bracco, Nic Petan etc.

The combined cap savings will be over 22 million.

It might be hard to get rid of Zaitsev and Marleau, but I believe that the Leafs are creative and will be determined, and that they’ll make it happen.

They will have no trouble signing Marner, Johnsson and Kapanen.  This “studs and duds” cap philosophy will prove so effective that almost everyone else will copy it.

There really isn’t any discernible difference between non-first liners and guys like Nic Petan besides the opportunity to play.  The Toronto Maple Leafs will exploit this, sign all the players they want to keep, and replace the mid-range earners with guys who make the minimum.

This means Tyler Ennis won’t be back. It means that a lot of people will be upset when Zach Hyman is traded.  But it also means the Leafs will have a set of elite players that will be the envy of the rest of the league.

Sure, Hyman is a fan favorite and he is a great grinder, but for all his grinding, anyone who puts up ten or fifteen more points than he does (which is almost anyone playing on that line) will more than make up for it.

Will it work out? I think it will, but we’ll just have to wait and see.