Toronto Maple Leafs: Players Aren’t Greedy and Deserve to be Paid

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) corrals the puck on a shorthanded breakaway during Game 1 of the First Round between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 11, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) corrals the puck on a shorthanded breakaway during Game 1 of the First Round between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 11, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have got a situation on their hands.

With Mitch Marner asking for top dollar, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson in need of new deals, and Matthews, Tavares and Nylander all recently signing, the Toronto Maple Leafs are faced with some tough decisions.

Specifically, they’ve got to figure out how to best utilize the salary cap in order to keep contending while paying their players big money.

Which those players deserve.

There is nothing more annoying – in my opinion – than fans calling players greedy for wanting to be paid. First of all, the owners of the NHL are extremely greedy themselves – players have had to scratch and claw just to get paid a reasonable percentage of league revenues.

Second of all, players have a limited window for earning, they make back the team every dollar invested in them, and they have a skill which is exceedingly rare.

There might be 20 people on earth as good at hockey as Mitch Marner. He is expected to sign away his twenties (aka his prime) in one fell swoop, and he projects to make the team that owns him millions and millions of dollars.

But somehow he’s “greedy” for wanting his fair share?  I don’t get it.  The building he plays in charges $14 for a $3 beer, and he’s supposed to be the magnanimous one?

And if you say that “if he wasn’t selfish, he’d take a pay cut so more players could fit under the cap,” I would ask why he should be expected to pay for his boss’s idiotic mistakes?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have $11 million dollars tied up in Marleau, Brown and Hyman.  Three guys who, if you combine their skills, might give you 10% of what Mitch Marner is asking for.  On the basis of what others are paid, he probably deserves  $30 million annually.  So maybe $11 million seems like a deal to him.

Regardless, I just don’t think anyone who calls him selfish is being fair, or putting any of this in the proper context.

So how do the Leafs pay him and still succeed?

I’ve theorized before that if the Toronto Maple Leafs pay several elite players and jettison everyone who isn’t a first-line player that makes over the league minimum, they should be fine.

This is because of two major factors:

1) There is very little, if any, difference between non-first line players and any random players.  For instance, Connor Brown costs two million dollars against the cap, but the difference between him and any first-line AHL/5th line NHL player is basically just opportunity.

2) One ten million player (assuming he’s paid somewhat accurately) and a league minimum player will always have more value than two players being paid $5.5 million.

Next. Trade Rumour of the Week. dark

The salary cap is easily exploited by a “studs and duds” approach, and the Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be trying to be the first NHL team to test this theory.

We will see if it works out.