The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t executed a player buyout since Jared Cowen’s contract was bought out in June 2016. That was in the Lou Lamoriello days. Kyle Dubas has never bought out an NHL contract, but will his zero buyout days soon come to an end?
The first NHL buyout period of 2022 will begin on July 1st or 48 hours after the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs, whichever comes later. The most likely candidate for a buyout on the Toronto Maple Leafs is goaltender, Petr Mrázek. Will Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs buy him out?
The problem with buyouts on a contending team against the cap like the Leafs is that though there would be a savings in reducing a contract, there would still be dead money on the cap for twice the original contract length that can not be traded.
It will be interesting to see what happens.
Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Buyout Petr Mrázek?
Petr Mrázek’s contract was back-end loaded without signing bonuses which makes it more advantageous for the Toronto Maple Leafs to buy him out. The two years left on his $3.8 million AAV contract would turn into cap hits over the next four seasons of $1,033,333, $833,333, $1,433,333 and $1,433,333 (via CapFriendly).
However, a more likely scenario is that the Toronto Maple Leafs trade Petr Mrázek to another team to avoid the cap hit entirely much like they did with Patrick Marleau back in 2019.
My guess is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will find a way to trade Petr Mrázek to a rebuilding team trying to spend to the cap floor like the Arizona Coyotes or the Buffalo Sabres. Either of those teams could then buyout Mrázek or even keep him on their roster.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Patrick Marleau and his $6.25 million salary to the Carolina Hurricanes, they had to give up a first round pick to do it. I’m hoping Petr Mrázek’s price tag is a little lower. In my opinion, it would be worth surrendering a third round pick to lose Mrázek’s cap hit entirely.
Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Buyout Anyone Else?
Besides Petr Mrázek, there aren’t any other players the Toronto Maple Leafs would consider buying out this season. They may want to move Jake Muzzin’s contract, but even though he has a no-trade clause, a buyout isn’t the way to do it.
Muzzin’s contract was front-end loaded with signing bonuses, so there isn’t much of a discount to buying him out now. The final two years of his $5,625,000 AAV contract would still cost $4,291,667, $4,291,667, $666,667 and $666,667 over the next four seasons. It would cost them $4.5 million to bury him in the minors for two seasons.
The most likely scenario is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will keep Jake Muzzin on their roster for one more season. On July 1st, 2023, his no-trade clause turns into a 10-team no-trade list.
The Toronto Maple Leafs could also ask Muzzin to waive his no-trade clause, but that’s something Kyle Dubas generally doesn’t do. If they really don’t want him, I’m sure he’d be claimed on waivers.
A popular player being typed into the CapFriendly buyout calculator right now is Leafs captain, John Tavares. Who ever is doing this needs to stop. There’s no way the Toronto Maple Leafs would think of buying out Tavares. It makes no sense at all.