Teams That Could Help the Toronto Maple Leafs Solve Cap Problems

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 29: Nikita Zaitsev #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles with Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 29, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 29: Nikita Zaitsev #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs battles with Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 29, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Toronto Maple Leafs cap problems have been overblown.

The Toronto Maple Leafs cap situation isn’t optimal, but it’s a far cry from the problem that some have described it as.

Yes, the Leafs are at a point where they will have to make tough decisions in order to comply with the salary cap.

But no, the Leafs are not going to lose one of their “big three” to do so.

Kyle Dubas famously (or infamously) said that the Leafs “can and will” sign their trio of franchise forwards.  So far, Dubas has pulled of two thirds of the trifecta, signing Matthews and Nylander to deals that will be team-friendly before they’re even half over.

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’ll also sign Mitch Marner.  Therefore, once the Leafs cap problems aren’t really bad at all, unless people move the goalposts to make their point.  Which they have and will, but who cares? It’s not like being wrong ever stopped anyone before.

Fact is, the Leafs will finish this summer with their Big Three signed long-term. That’s a win.  Even if it costs them Johnsson or Kapanen (it won’t) it will still be a win.  Now, could one of those guys (Kapanen) still get traded? Of course they can, it just won’t be a desperate move to stay under the cap – it will be a hockey decision.

The reason I don’t think the Leafs will be forced to make any major cuts from their roster is because I am reasonably confident that they will be able to unload both Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev.

So who could take on one of those contracts?

Toronto Maple Leafs (Potential) Trade Partners

The Cap isn’t yet finalized for next season, but all indications are that it should go up significantly with gambling and expansion on the horizon

Here are some teams that could potentially take on a contract:

Detroit – They are rebuilding, they’re bound to be terrible next year, and they’ve got a bunch of cap space.  They might be a team who could afford to gamble on Zaitsev. (All cap info from capfriendly.com).

Arizona – They never spend to the cap, so a situation where the Leafs pay them to take Patrick Marleau (who has a cap hit, but no real money owed to him once his bonus payment is made) might be a good fit, especially if the Leafs have a scorer to trade.

Ottawa – Same reasoning as the Coyotes, only they have virtually no chance of making the playoffs next season, and so they would probably want picks and prospects.

Devils – They’re going to have quite a few star-level players on ELCs and they don’t even spend money as it is.  They might take a bad contract for a player like Kapanen who could help them now.

You do hope Kapanen could bring back more than just cap space, but really, cap space is as valuable as the player you spend it on, so it’s a helpful move that would probably just have bad optics as its only down side.

I think those might be the only options.  A team that would take him would have to have a low cap, and most likely not be interested in spending what they have. I didn’t include the Rangers for instance, because they probably want to spend their money on real players.

Next. Hope As Much As You Want, Nylander Staying With Leafs. dark

Maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs will get stuck with these contracts, and maybe they won’t. Either way, it’s at least good to know that there are options.