The Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade late Saturday night with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Toronto Maple Leafs sent forward Nick Ritchie to Arizona along with either a future second or third-round draft pick, and in return, received Ryan Dzingel, who they immediately waived, and Ilya Lyubushkin.
One of the main things that Dubas needed to do leading up to the March 21st trade deadline was get rid of Ritchie’s $2.5 million cap hit. The fact that he was able to do that, plus add a potential top four defenseman and a depth forward is a clear win.
(Salary cap info from: capfriendly.com)
Both Dzingel ($1.1 million) and Lyubushkin ($1.35 million) have a combined cap hit of ($2.45 million). Toronto right away placed Dzingel on waivers in the hopes that they can bury his contract in the minors for extra cap relief. If he cleared waivers, they would have been able to bring him up without needing to clear waivers again.
On Monday afternoon, Dzingel got claimed by the San Jose Sharks. Losing him to the Sharks through waivers, the Maple Leafs gain $1.1 million in cap space. That cap space will come in handy as Dubas continues to try and upgrade his team for the playoffs.
During the Maple Leafs game on Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens, it got announced that Toronto made another trade with the Coyotes. This time they acquired goaltender Carter Hutton for future considerations.
Hutton has not played since October 25th, 2021, due to a lower-body injury. He was placed on waivers on Sunday by the Coyotes and cleared. Toronto will send him directly to the AHL. If Hutton is not ready to play yet, the Maple Leafs will put him on injured reserve. Toronto could benefit from placing him on LTIR if they need extra cap space at the deadline.
Toronto Maple Leafs Salary Cap Situation
Right now, the Leafs are carrying eight defensemen against the cap while they wait for Lyubushkin to secure a Canadian workers visa sorted out. To create more cap space, Toronto will likely be making a corresponding move.
Though Liljegren or Sandin could briefly end up in the minors, the Leafs most likely trade one of Justin Holl or Travis Dermott to make room for Lyubushkin.
By getting rid of Ritchie and bringing in rental players, Dubas has freed up $2.5 million towards next season’s salary cap. Toronto currently has $8.719 million available for next season, but keep in mind that the cap is supposed to go up another $1 million this summer.
As of right now, Dubas will have an estimated $9.719 million to work with this off-season. The biggest free agents on his roster this off-season will be Jack Campbell (UFA), Rasmus Sandin (RFA), and Liljegren (RFA).
Potential Muzzin Injury Could Benefit Toronto Maple Leafs Cap Situation
As I was writing this article, Jake Muzzin was leaving Monday’s game against the Canadiens. Muzzin collided with Montreal’s Chris Wideman and hit his head on the ice. Toronto and Muzzin will need to be extra cautious with his history of concussion problems.
Having Muzzin out of the lineup for a prolonged period is not ideal for Toronto. The only good thing that could come out of this would be if Toronto placed Muzzin on LTIR and freed up a lot of cap space to use on a high price upgrade. Muzzin would have to remain on LTIR until the playoffs start. Once the playoffs start, the salary cap doesn’t matter. We will have to wait and see what happens.
I like the addition of Lyubushkin but hope the Toronto Maple Leafs can make at least one more upgrade to their defense. As much as it sucks to see a player get hurt, I think Toronto should play it safe with Muzzin and put him on LTIR for the rest of the season. Dubas can upgrade the defense with the cap space created by placing Muzzin on LTIR. He can then have him available when he is needed the most.