September 23 2013 03:43PM
Per Mirtle... and a host of others.
Leafs have signed Mason Raymond.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) September 23, 2013
1-year 1 million for Mason Raymond.— David Alter (@DavidAlter590) September 23, 2013
The situation gets interesting considering the suspension to David Clarkson and possible suspension to Phil Kessel. It may have been wiser to wait and see whether anything comes from Kessel's suspension since that affects the salary cap going in... but perhaps the team has another move planned to clear up the salary cap space.
So... what do we have now?
First off, I want to commend the signing. Taking a low risk on Mason Raymond for just a year, given what he's accomplished in the past, is the right move. He's a good player to have in the lineup and solves the discrepancy on the Leafs' third line left wing. Although I have him up on the second line to start the season, because, well, yeah.
If you went to Capgeek's cap calculator, you can easily plug in the million dollar figure for Raymond and fit a 23-man roster, which includes two healthy scratches, for the Leafs with a little under $1-million in salary cap space. That accounts for David Clarkson being out of the lineup for ten games in October, who we must remind you will count against the salary cap during that time.
If the Leafs are intending to get Franson under contract... that's a little dicier.
Mckenzie "Leafs expected to sign Franson on a one year deal and bringing in Raymond. Clarkson's suspension changes that"— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) September 23, 2013
Mckenzie on TSN Radio "Raymond was going to get this deal with or without Clarkson's suspension "— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) September 23, 2013
What really changes in this case is that the Maple Leafs will be forced to carry 21 bodies around rather than 20 for the first few weeks, which eats up a small bit of salary cap space. Had the suspension been for one or two games, you could theoretically send people down until you only have 17 skaters on the eligible roster—I can't find anything in the NHL rulebook or collective bargaining agreement that indicates a suspended player gets taken off of the active roster, and indeed, in the 2010 season, the New Jersey Devils iced just 15 skaters one night after a suspension to Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Since the suspension is for 10 games, however, that's not a feasible option. You can't go into a road building with just 20 players. If somebody gets hurt in warmups, you're boned. I'd say this brings the Leafs bare minimum number of bodies up from 21 to 22.
Now, if you look at the same roster and send down John-Michael Liles, you're left with nearly a million more in payroll room. Keep the moderately useful NHL player up and send down Korbinian Holzer, you're left with $1.8-million in cap room. Sending down Liles instead of Holzer to save $200 against the cap isn't the smartest move, I feel.
From this perspective, it's no longer possible to sign Cody Franson and fit under the salary cap without moving a body. I do not think that Liles has any trade value, and with his salary, it's unlikely that a team would take him on. You could theoretically package him with Joe Colborne as an incentive, but either way, the Leafs are going to be out a roster player as a result of mismanagement this summer.
Getting Raymond signed, though, satisfies a positionional need. It doesn't make sense to wake up on the other side of the bed and rid the team of Nik Kulemin to get Franson under contract. I really like Franson, but the only player worth moving, given the expected return, to get him under contract is probably John-Michael Liles unless there's a team willing to give up a ransom for Dion Phaneuf.
Speaking of the defence, Stuart Percy and Andrew MacWilliam were sent back down to the Marlies this morning as AHL preseason games draw nearer. That leaves just nine defencemen on the roster, including T.J. Brennan and Morgan Rielly. The team may keep up Rielly as long as they can, but I'd expect Brennan to be sent down on the final day of cuts and maximize his chances of clearing waivers. While Brennan has to clear waivers to reach the AHL, if a team claims him, he must be added to that team's roster. There will more than likely be better defencemen than Brennan cut the day before rosters must be submitted.
Will it be Liles, or Franson, on the Leafs' opening day roster? Time is ticking on Nonis to prove his wizardry and get a very good young defenceman under contract...