Toronto Maple Leafs Cannot Afford Another John Klingberg Situation

Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals
Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs blew free agency last season with the John Klingberg signing, so the same thing better not happen this offseason.

When it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs, we always talk about the salary cap. We discuss the crazy idea of having $40M-plus tied up to four forwards and then yell and moan about how this team can't find any depth for a reasonable price

Although the logic is true that these four forwards take up a large percentage of the cap, the criticism about the startegy has been proven wrong hundreds of times - the Leafs have been one of the NHL's top teams the entire time they've employed this strategy, and have ever, when they had Ryan O'Rielly, had the NHL's best roster.

They sat over $10 million in healthy scratches in game six of the playoffs.

In fact, they had $20M in cap space last year to spend on free agents and will have even more this year, so we can't use the excuse that there's no money. There's always money in the bannana stand (*Arrested Development anyone?).

Toronto Maple Leafs Cannot Afford Another John Klingberg Situation

It's way harder to draft, develop and sign players such as William Nylander, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares than it is to sign a player to a $2M contract who performs like a $5M player. That was former GM Kyle Dubas' biggest gift, but unfortuantely his successor hasn't shown the same thing.

When GM Brad Treliving was gifted a large percentage of cap-space last year, he spent it on David Kampf, Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Ryan Reaves and John Klingberg. He spent roughly $17M on five players who had zero impact on the Leafs in the playoffs. He used the words "more snot" and told us that these players would bring toughness that would help in the postseason, yet the same result happened: a Game 7 loss.

When you have Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander, those playeres obviously need to be the ones who step up in the biggest moments. However, at the same time, those five players could have been the unsung hero's that this team continues to miss out on, year after year.

As we get ready for July 1 and the start of Free Agency, the Leafs cannot afford to spend their money unwisley again. Their biggest defenseman signing was John Klingberg last year and he was the biggest bust of the offseason.

There are names like Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov out there that are going to garner a ton of attention, who the Leafs should be intrigued by, but they can't overpay.

Instead, I'd feel much better about the team re-signing Timothy Liljegren and trying to add multiple depth defensemen than one big fish, who could be a bust.

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This team has cap-space to improve their roster and could have even more if Mitch Marner gets traded, so they need to capitlize on the market and pay players accordingly, instead of overpaying like they did last offseason.