Toronto Maple Leafs: The NHL Should Change the Salary Cap

NHL logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NHL logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

With Mark Stone being placed on LTIR, raising eyebrows, the NHL salary cap has been exposed as being flawed. It’s time redesign the cap structure, which would incidentally benefit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the wealthiest teams in the NHL, which provides them with the ability to spend far more than other organizations.

That’s a big reason why the league introduced the salary cap beginning in the 2005-2006 season. It’s now time to revisit this system and make some needed changes.

The main purpose of the salary cap was to create parity within the league, making all games more exciting. This season, there are currently a whopping 49 points that separate the top and bottom teams in the league. Clearly, parity does not exist. With that in mind, change is needed and it could benefit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL Salary Cap

The NBA uses a soft cap, which allows teams to exceed the salary cap ceiling.

To do so means that they pay a penalty in the form of a luxury tax. The system can be a bit confusing. Any franchise that exceeds the cap would have to pay a penalty based on how much it goes over.

For example, if the salary total of players is under $10 million greater than the cap, the team will be required to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax. There are brackets established from there such as $10-15 million and $15-20 million over the cap. The luxury tax costs to teams increases at every tier.

Adopting the NBA system wouldn’t be ideal. Moving off the hard cap would undo a lot of the work established to provide as close to an even playing field as possible between cash strapped and the very wealthy teams. A soft cap would greatly benefit those richer franchises while once again putting the smaller market clubs at a significant disadvantage.

That is why the perfect solution is to keep the hard cap but with an added twist. NHL general managers have already shown that they will circumvent the salary cap by any means possible. Red flags have been raised over the past couple seasons due to timely injuries of high ticket players on teams up against the cap. Instead of using questionable methods used to fit all a team’s salaries under the cap, a solution is simple.

The NHL should keep its hard cap and allow each club to choose a single contract that will not count towards it. This would be great for the players because it means that 32 players (one per team) in the league can be paid enormous salaries without it adversely affecting their team’s salary cap. It would also give some cap relief to the teams who have made some poor contract decisions without creating too big of an imbalance between the different organizations in the NHL.

Of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs would benefit greatly from such a setup since they’re paying the third-highest salary in the NHL to their star center, Auston Matthews. Keeping $11,640,250 off the books would go a long way to helping the Leafs invest in other players.

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Even if this suggested system isn’t one that the NHL likes, a change is needed. It’s time for the league and the players to get together and find something that works for all parties and makes the on-ice product even more dynamic.