Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving finally accomplished some important tasks over the last two weeks as he extended star center Auston Matthews and coach Sheldon Keefe.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of questions up in the air for the Toronto Maple Leafs, mainly about extending William Nylander, as well as how the team can get under the salary cap.
The 2023-24 National Hockey League salary cap is going to be $83.5 Million and according to capfriendly.com the Leafs are sitting around $85.64 Million is cap usage.
That number includes Matt Murray and Jake Muzzin on the long term injured reserve.
How Much Space Do the Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Create?
With the current state of the roster, Treliving will need to clear around $2.2 Million and you have to wonder where that will come from?
At this time, capfriendly.com is showing that the Toronto Maple Leafs are carrying three goalies and you can guarantee that the won’t all three opening night.
Treliving signed veteran Martin Jones a few weeks ago to be insurance in case of an injury to Joseph Woll or Ilya Samsonov. If both of those two goalies are healthy at the end of training camp, Jones will be placed on waivers to join the Marlies, which will create $875,000 in cap relief.
There is the possibility that Jones is claimed, however this won’t stop the organization from trying to sneak him through. Once Jones is moved to the AHL, Treliving will still need to find another $1.3 Million in cap relief.
One additional option would to place free agent signing Dylan Gambrell and his 775K salary on waivers as at best he is the 13th forward on the team.
The Maple Leafs GM will still need to find more than a half million in cap relief and the team will be going with the bare minimum forwards.
One last option to create cap space would be to waive Mark Giordano and/or Conor Timmins. This is a scenario that I don’t believe the team would like to do as it would force them to go with the bare minimum roster, which could cause them to go shorthanded if an injury were to occur.
Of these moves the only one that is a guarantee is Jones to the Marlies, which means the team needs to create $1.3 Million in cap space. So a move has to be on the horizon and here are the two likely options:
Calle Järnkrok – $2.1 Million
Kyle Dubas signed Järnkrok to a four-year deal last summer with a cap hit of $2.1 Million.
He played a key utility role as he was able to move up and down the roster playing on every line. He finished the season with career highs in goals (20) and points (39). A team acquiring him would get three years left of a cap hit of $2.1 Million ($6.3 Million in cap allocation), however would need to pay him just $4.975 Million that is left on his contract. (stats nhl.com).
By moving Järnkrok, the Leafs would now have nearly $800,000 in cap space and would be able to activate Nick Robertson’s $797,000 when he is healthy.
Järnkrok is expected to play on the third line with Max Domi and David Kampf which could be taken by either Robertson or potentially either Pontus Holmberg or Sam Lafferty.
TJ Brodie – $5.0 Million
Typically when Dubas was trying to sway players to come to Toronto he would entice them by front loading their contracts as well as being heavy in signing bonuses, however this was not the case for TJ Brodie.
Brodie did not receive any signing bonuses and the contract was back loaded with $7.5 Million being paid out during the season for a $5 Million cap hit on the last year of his deal.
Many people think of Brodie as that reliable stay at home defenseman, unfortunately he took a giant step backwards midseason last year and now at 33-years old you can not expect him get better.
If Treliving could trade Brodie, this would relieve all the cap troubles the team have for the season and potentially bring in an impact player during the season. He does have a ten team no trade clause and the Toronto Maple Leafs GM would likely have to add something to the deal to move Brodie.
Something else could be in the works, but these are the two most simplest pieces to move.