Toronto Maple Leafs Cap Flexibility and Line-Up Options are Incredible

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 4: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas during interview with Bruce Arthur (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 4: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas during interview with Bruce Arthur (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed yet another high-quality fringe NHL player to their lineup for next season.

If you spend any time online reading or discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs, chances are you’ve heard a lot of criticism about how the team has allotted their salary cap money.

Today, the Leafs signed another player more than capable of playing on the fourth line of any team in the NHL to a league minimum, zero risk, high reward contract that all but assures they are the deepest team in the NHL yet again next year.

People continue to criticize the Leafs, and they continue to ignore those people and take advantage of a system that makes above average fourth liners available for free.

And apparently, the Leafs feel there is an unlimited amount of these players available. (stats from

Toronto Maple Leafs, Adam Brooks and the Salary Cap

There are a few things people always ignore when assessing the Leafs salary cap position. (

  • They don’t have any bad, long-term deals
  • There are few, if any, teams that have as many elite players (Tavares, Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Rielly, Andersen).
  • Star players drive results in the NHL
  • All of the team’s mid-range deals (over a million for non-star players) are short-term deals for young players with potential to be in the group of roughly 10% of NHL players that affects the outcome of games (Johnsson,Kerfoot, Kapanen, Hyman).
  • Their bottom six forward and 3rd defensive pairings give them an edge over the vast majority of NHL teams.  Maybe all of them.
  • Players who are interchangeable with NHL players getting  mid-range salaries as second and third liners are available, always, for free.

Adam Brooks put up excellent NHL stats during his seven game trial earlier this year, and he is one of many players who will be competing for jobs next year on the bottom half of the Leafs lineup.

Having all these players gives the Toronto Maple Leafs options.  For instance, they don’t need to be pressured into raises for Kyle Clifford, Ilya Mikheyev, Jason Spezza or Gauthier.  All would be welcome back at the right price, but with so many options, the Leafs can afford to play hardball.

If Mikheyev is signed, the Leafs could play him in Hyman in the top six, leaving a third line of Andreas Johnsson, Alex Kerfoot and Kasperi Kapanen.

That’s a ten million dollar cap hit on your third line, and with so many options, the Leafs could afford to trade one or all of them (though I believe they’d likely not trade Kerfoot under any circumstances).

If everything falls into place, the Leafs could have a bottom six that looks absolutely insane:


Clifford – Spezza –

However, here are the options they have for that last spot or for replacements:

Kenny Agostino, Adam Brooks, Nic Petan, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Nick Robertson,  , Pierre Engvall, Yegor Korshkev, Alex Barabanov, Mikhail Abramov.

And they also have the option to still re-sign: Jeremy Bracco, Garrett Wilson, Frederick Gauthier, and Denis Malgin, which I assume they probably will sign most of them.

All in all, you’re talking about between 15 and 19 total players who the Toronto Maple Leafs can decide between.   This gives them a ton of options and flexibility.

The crazy thing is, almost all of these guys could probably be above average NHL players for the role they’d be given.  With 19 of them to compete for six jobs, it’s a given that the Leafs will find a way to turn the bottom of their lineup into a weapon that gives them an advantage over every other NHL team.

And since the top of their lineup is unassailable, there really is no reason to complain about the team’s management or salary cap whatsoever.

This strategy gives them trade options.

It provides Salary cap flexibility.

And, best of all, because the bottom of an NHL lineup is largely irrelevant to the outcome of most games, it gives them a potentially huge edge with basically zero risk.

Next. 5 Leafs Prospects That Should be on Stand-by. dark

As a bonus, the sheer quantity of players gives them a chance to uncover another Justin Holl aka a diamond in the rough capable of playing nearer to the top of an NHL lineup.

Kyle Dubas continues to be the most unjustly criticized person in the NHL.