The Toronto Maple Leafs do not have a salary cap problem.
The Toronto Maple Leafs do not have a lot of cap space, but they don’t really have a problem.
Now, of course if you have a good team, then over time you will have to make tough decisions.
The Leafs have already had to let players like James van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner and Tyler Bozak walk away in free agency. And while this is never fun, it speaks more to why the Leafs don’t have a cap problem than anything else:
The main reason the Leafs cap situation is good today, is that they have (with two notable exceptions in Tavares and Muzzin) refused to give term or money to players approaching 30 year of age.
The Leafs have decided to pay their core players and fill out the roster on the margins. Time will tell if this is a sound strategy, but for now, you can’t say the Leafs have a “problem” if they are doing exactly what they want.
The Leafs have, so far, given money and term to players who deserve it. They maintain flexibility by having an $11 million dollar third line that they can move if necessary.
But the main reason they are doing OK is because they don’t have any long term contracts to players who are just average.
Here is a list of other team’s problems. All information for this article from capfriendly.com.
The NHL’s List of Terrible Contracts
I will limit this to just one example for each team, though many teams have more.
Anaheim: Adam Henrique, 30, $5.8 million for four more years.
Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larson, 28, $8.25 million for six more years.
Boston: Charlie Coyle, 28, $5.25 million for six more years.
Buffalo: Jeff Skinner, 28, $9 million for six more years.
Calgary: Mikael Backlund, 31, $5.35 for four more years.
Carolina: Jordan Staal, 31, $6 million for three more years.
Chicago: Brent Seabrook, 35, $7 million (just under) for four more years.
Colorado: Eric Johnsson, 32, $6 million for three more years.
Columbus: Gustav Nyquist, 30, $5.5 million for three more years.
Dallas: Joe Pavelski, 35, $7 million for two more years.
Detroit: Justin Abdelkader, 33, $4.25 million for three more years.
Edmonton: James Neal, 32, $5,75 for three more years.
Florida: Keith Yandle, 33, $6.35 for three more years.
LA: Dustin Brown, 35, $5.875 million for two more years.
Minnesota: Zack Parise, 35, $7.5 for five more years.
Montreal: Shea Weber, 34, $7.85 for six more years.
Nashville: Ryan Johansson, 27, $8.00 million for five more years.
New Jersey: P.K Subban, 31, $9.00 million for two more years.
Islanders: Anders Lee, 29, $7.00 million for six more years.
Rangers: Jacob Trouba, 26, $8 million for six more years.
Ottawa: Nikita Zaitsev, 28, $4.5 million for four more years.
Philadelphia: Jacob Voracuk, 30, $8.25 million for four more years.
Pittsburgh: Patrick Hornqvist, 33, $5.3 million for three more years.
San Jose: Brent Burns, 35, $8.33 million for five more years.
St. Louis: Justin Faulk, 28, $6.5 million for six more years.
Tampa Bay: Ryan McDonagh, $6.75 million for six more years.
Vancouver: Tyler Myers, 30, $6.00 million for four more years.
Vegas: Ryan Reeves, 33, $1.75 million for two more years.
Washington: Nick Backstrom, 33, $9.00 million for five more years.
Winnipeg: Blake Wheeler, 33, $8.25 million for four more years.
As you can clearly see, every single team in the NHL literally has at least one contract worse than any contract the Leafs have. 100% of the contracts listed above would be the worst contract the Leafs had, if that player was on the Leafs right now.
The only bad contract on the Leafs is Cody Ceci’s and, while ridiculous, it does end after this season. Every single member of the Toronto Maple Leafs who is signed long-term has a reasonable contract.
As you can see, all other NHL teams have at least one terrible contract, which gives the Leafs a significant competitive advantage.
People complain about Mitch Marner’s contract, but he is 23 and coming off a 94 point season. It has plenty of time to become a team-friendly deal, and even if it doesn’t, the worst case scenario is that you’ve slightly overpaid a hall of famer for 100% of his best years.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team in hockey without a bad contract.