The Toronto Maple Leafs placed Jake Muzzin on the Injured Reserve last night.
While I sincerely hope that Jake Muzzin isn’t hurt longterm, the Toronto Maple Leafs should take a page out of the Tampa Bay Lightning playbook and give him a little rest until the playoffs.
Since the NHL isn’t smart enough to invent a Luxury Tax system, the best way to circumvent the salary-cap is to hide players on LTIR until the playoffs start.
Tampa Bay perfected this last season with Nikita Kucherov and it feels like the Vegas Golden Knights are doing the same this year with Mark Stone. I understand that these players were legitimately injured, but it was quite the coincidence that Kucherov was perfectly fine for Game 1 of the playoffs, leading the team in points and helping them win a Stanley Cup, but couldn’t suit up for one regular season game.
As I previously mentioned, a Luxury Tax system would solve most of these problems. It would allow the rich teams (Toronto Maple Leafs) or any team that wanted to make a run at a Stanley Cup, to spend over the salary cap and then ultimately pay a tax that would benefit the rest of the NHL.
It would add more revenue to the league, to every individual team and every player. If you think it’s unfair because only the rich teams would win Stanley Cup’s, think again.
The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs are two of the most valued NHL franchises and prior to the league introducing a salary cap in 2006, both of those teams won one combined Stanley Cup since 1967. Having more money doesn’t necessarily mean more playoff success, but it does make for a better product.
The only thing we talk about as fans is “money.” For example, Michael Bunting is scoring at a 30-goal pace and only makes $950K, but instead of celebrating it, we’re worried that the Leafs won’t be able to afford to keep him in two years.
Anyway, can the Leafs use LTIR to their advantage right now?
Toronto Maple Leafs Should Keep Muzzin on LTIR
Muzzin is 32 years old and it seems that time has finally caught up with him. Should the Leafs find it necessary for him to stay on the LTIR until the playoffs, it would benefit the team immensely.
With a cap-hit of $5.625M, Toronto could desperately use him off the books before the NHL Trade Deadline and keep him buried on LTIR until the playoffs start. With that amount of money cleared, the Leafs could make a big-time move to help bolster their depth or top-four defense.
It’s possible that Toronto would be able to afford some higher-priced players like Claude Giroux, Mark Giordano, John Klingberg or Jacob Chychrun with that money cleared, and all four players would help this team tremendously.
When healthy, Muzzin is a nasty defenseman and someone you want during playoff-time. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup winner and has been one of the Leafs best defenseman since they acquired him. His timely return could really help the Leafs come playoff time, but if he just happened to be unable to play until the salary cap was no longer an issue, he might just put the team over the top.