The Toronto Maple Leafs remain the best team in the NHL at managing their salary cap.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the conversation for Most Talent and Deepest Team, and they don’t have a single bad contract on their roster.
Given the fact that they’ve done this while revolutionizing how NHL teams spend their money (studs and duds) and during a pandemic that caused the league to adopt a flat salary cap this is all the more impressive.
Remember, the when the Leafs signed Tavares, Marner, Matthews and Nylander, they made a (then) reasonable assumption that expansion, a new TV deal, and legalized gambling would send the NHL salary cap skyrocketing north of 100 million.
Had this occurred, the Leafs right now would be the talk of the league. They’d be in first place with an absolute ton of cap space.
Back here in reality, the Leafs have no cap space at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t add at the NHL trade deadline.
How the Toronto Maple Leafs Can Add Cap Space
The Leafs cap situation is not as dire as it seems. The Leafs have two players who they can reasonably assume can be moved without retention, thus giving them quite a lot of cap space to add if they want to.
Justin Holl makes $2 million dollars, and he’s right handed. And he plays in the top four of a first-place team. And he’s huge, and he has a history of putting up decent underlying numbers despite playing tough minutes.
Whatever he brings back is a bonus – the cap space is golden.
Next up is Nick Ritchie. He makes $2.5 million dollars and is currently playing on the fourth line. The problem with Ritchie is that there is no where for him to play. Michael Bunting won the Matthews Left Wing Sweepstakes. Alex Kerfoot has been a revelation on the left side of Tavares and Nylander. The Engvall-Kampf-Kase line has been the best 3rd line in hockey when healthy.
That leaves just the fourth line, with not much chance of moving up. No player – let alone Nick Ritchie – is worth $2.5 million dollars on the fourth line. Additionally, with Kyle Clifford, Nick Robertson, Josh Ho-Sang, Joey Anderson, Brett Seney and about ten other players, there is really no need to keep him around.
The thing is, though, as a former first rounder who is huge, physical, and who still possess drool-worthy upside, moving him shouldn’t be a problem either. That was why signing him was always a no risk proposition – if he’s good, he’s a bargain, and if he isn’t, he’s movable.
Two players combine for $4.5 million in cap space. That should give the Toronto Maple Leafs a lot of options for the trade deadline.