Maple Leafs sign Mason Raymond

Cam Charron
September 23 2013 03:43PM

Per Mirtle... and a host of others.

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.

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... 

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 03:30PM
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And Cody Franson wept.

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#2 Steve Dangle
September 23 2013, 04:12PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

And Cody Franson wept.

Fans*

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#3 MaxPower417
September 23 2013, 06:04PM
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I think the Leafs can still sign Franson and roll a 22 man roster. (21 for the first 10 games)

Send down Holzer (775k) Send down Orr (925k) Send down Fraser OR Liles (925k saved)

Sign Franson for 2.75 mil Call up TJ Brennan (600k) Keep Trevor Smith as the 13 forward (550k)

That leaves 283,333 in cap room.

No it's not ideal, especially for 10 games where Smith will be playing every game (on the fourth line) and there will be no replacement forward.

Hypothetically they could also play 11 F 7 D if a forward gets hurt, as their fourth line doesn't get much ice time anyway. And there are even more out there possibilities that include putting Liles, Gardiner or Brennan up at forward for a few games.

But after 10 games, none of this madness should be necessary, and depending on how close to the cap you are willing to get, you can exchange Smith for a slightly more expensive (and useful) player.

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#4 Ron Moore
September 23 2013, 06:22PM
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Why on earth would the Leafs even think about trading Colborne? When a center gets hurt who do you think will get the first call? Who do you think we have in the system to replace a center man if we traded him? For a team that's a thin as you can be at center, I mean its hockey 101 not to trade away players from a position you lack in.

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#5 Murtuza Rajkotwala
September 23 2013, 07:29PM
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Trevor Smith is included in Capgeeks list of forwards. Send down Smith, Liles, Holzer. Thats 2.3 million dollars of the books. Plus the remaining 1 million after the raymond signing. 3.3 Million Dollars should cut it for Franson considering the circumstances. If not send Orr and bring up Smith. You save 400 grand? and also isnt a players contract only count of they play in ten or more games? If thats the case, rotate Josh Leivo, Carter Ashton, Biggs for the time being. Maybe bring kulemin up and put Brodie on the third line. In conclusion, the leafs are not screwed. Just its going to be tight. And if liles plays well in the minors and racks up points maybe we can trade him plus a low draft pick for an even lower draft pick for him.

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#6 SchulzEricT
September 23 2013, 08:16PM
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Alright, obviously a theoretical situation, but: bought out Liles and Bozak. Traded Gunnarsson and Franson for Stastny. Sent down Orr and McLaren. Lines are now:

Lupul - Stastny - Kessel JVR - Kadri - Clarkson Raymond - Bolland - Kulemin McClement - Smith - Colborne Phaneuf - Fraser Gardiner - Ranger Holzer - X Reimer Bernier

with $4.27 million in cap space. Now, some of those things just won't happen, even if they should. However, I am still intrigued by a Colorado/Toronto trade. Colorado has Duchene (22), O'Reilly (22), MacKinnon (18), and Stastny (27). Seems like they can't possibly play those four guys, and they have a need on defense. Toronto has a lot of defenders, and even though it's not a great core (in my opinion, because of overlap; too many are puck movers, too few people movers), they have a number of good players. Seems like they ought to be able to put together a package of Franson/Gunnarsson/Gardiner (2 of 3, probably) to get Stastny and get that #1 center they so badly need. I'm not sure the Avs are looking to move him, but I don't know why that trade couldn't happen. Franson isn't signed yet, but if he's moved that allows Colorado to sign him without giving up picks, and moving Gunnarsson out allows Leafs to take half of Stastny's contract (buying out Liles covers the other half). Maybe that's not the whole trade, maybe a pick or prospect is thrown in, but that seems like the foundation of a trade that helps both teams.

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#7 SchulzEricT
September 23 2013, 08:19PM
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@SchulzEricT

Jeez, I hate how this thing formats text.

Lupul - Stastny - Kessel

JVR - Kadri - Clarkson

Raymond - Bolland - Kulemin

McClement - Smith - Colborne

Phaneuf - Fraser

Gardiner - Ranger

Holzer - X

Reimer

Bernier

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#8 WesternDP
September 23 2013, 09:56PM
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Send Orr to the AHL, he has cleared before and will clear again with that $925,000 contract.

Keep Devane who has 2 goals and an assist in the preseason and you free up $224,000 in cap space.

Every penny will count towards getting Franson signed.

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#9 Jay
September 23 2013, 09:59PM
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@SchulzEricT

Fraser on the first pairing?

Jesus christ. You've got to be kidding me. The Leafs need all the good d-men they can get, and you want to trade not only Franson, but Gunnarsson too? For a rental? Yeah wow.. glad you're not the GM

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#10 Jay
September 23 2013, 10:00PM
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@SchulzEricT

And I highly doubt you'd need to give up that much just for Stastny, especially since he's a rental

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#11 nonikhanna
September 24 2013, 05:20AM
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@SchulzEricT In that situation we are basically killing a strength to fill a weakness. Our defense will be down and out for 1-2 years before prospects come up. We are alright at center for now. Kadri could potentially grab the number 1 center spot. We just need a cheap playmaking 2nd line center, which could be filled temporarily by bozak. Hell our team is fine at the moment. But in 1-2 year, we will be looking to move bozak for sure.

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#12 nonikhanna
September 24 2013, 05:20AM
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@SchulzEricT In that situation we are basically killing a strength to fill a weakness. Our defense will be down and out for 1-2 years before prospects come up. We are alright at center for now. Kadri could potentially grab the number 1 center spot. We just need a cheap playmaking 2nd line center, which could be filled temporarily by bozak. Hell our team is fine at the moment. But in 1-2 year, we will be looking to move bozak for sure.

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#13 nonikhanna
September 24 2013, 05:20AM
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@SchulzEricT In that situation we are basically killing a strength to fill a weakness. Our defense will be down and out for 1-2 years before prospects come up. We are alright at center for now. Kadri could potentially grab the number 1 center spot. We just need a cheap playmaking 2nd line center, which could be filled temporarily by bozak. Hell our team is fine at the moment. But in 1-2 year, we will be looking to move bozak for sure.

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#14 Jeremy Ian
September 24 2013, 06:54AM
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WesternDP wrote:

Send Orr to the AHL, he has cleared before and will clear again with that $925,000 contract.

Keep Devane who has 2 goals and an assist in the preseason and you free up $224,000 in cap space.

Every penny will count towards getting Franson signed.

Good proposal.

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#15 SchulzEricT
September 24 2013, 07:08AM
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@Jay

I'm only trading Gunnarsson, really; you do realize you don't have Franson, right? Like, he's not signed, and y'all don't have money to sign him. He's useful to the Avs, since they have money; he's not useful to the Leafs, since they don't.

Obviously the trade wouldn't be made for only a rental; I wouldn't make the trade unless I know I can sign Stastny long-term.

I like Fraser on the top pair because he's steady; Phaneuf hasn't been paired with anybody of his caliber recently. Of course that's awful, since Fraser is by no means a top-2 defender, but it's better than having only one defensive pairing of Phaneuf and Gardiner, then nobody else you can put out there. Also, I expect a young player to be able to play this year, whether it's Reilly, Percy, or somebody else. By the way, I also freed up over $4 million, so you can go ahead and sign a free agent defenseman or two. Useful guys are out there: Carlo Colaiacovo, Colten Teubert, Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger, Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney. I'd definitely add Teubert, he's an attractive prospect who's worth having even if he's still not NHL-ready yet, and Eminger and possibly Colaiacovo, and use the latter two on the top pairings with Phaneuf and Gardiner. If Whitney is willing to accept a low-money deal (which he should, given his injury problems) he may well be a guy worth buying low on.

If you don't have to give up both of them, then great. But talent-wise, that's a fair trade. I think the Avs would be amenable to a fair trade, since they are stocked at center (and weak on defense). However, I have no idea if they are looking to move Stastny, or anybody else. They easily have the money to get him resigned; the middling players they are very likely to let walk will probably easily cover raises for young players (Hunwick, Sarich, Downie, McGinn - probably one if not both of those forwards - Mitchell), meaning they will still have around $10 million in salary cap if Stastny resigns for the same amount. I'm assuming the Avs are willing to take reasonable offers to move him, but aren't actively shopping him. If so, then I don't know, maybe Franson, a 2nd rounder, and a middling prospect would be enough, but you have no cap space for that.

By the way, if I was the GM, I'd've let Bozak walk, kept Grabovski, used that buyout for Liles, and would've passed on Clarkson. That leaves around $14 million in cap space. I make some signings, adding some role players. Here's your roster: Lupul - Kadri - Kessel is the top line, 2nd is JVR - Grabovski - Kulemin. 3rd is Mason - Bolland - Mike Knuble (old, so I don't necessarily want him, but he's a fine, cheap part to be a stop-gap until a prospect is ready. Maybe Colborne earns this spot). 4th is Jean-Francois Jacques (whatever, he's better than McLaren) - McClement - Akim Aliu. I have healthy scratches of Trevor Smith and Anthony Stewart. Your defense is Phaneuf and Gunnarsson; Gardiner and Eminger; Colaiacovo and Ranger. Mark Fraser is a healthy scratch, Colten Teubert and Holzer are in the AHL. Reimer and Bernier are the goalies. I'd probably also have kept MacArthur, which screws that up a bit, but I don't see how you mess with the MKG line, or how you drop JVR to 3rd. If I make that trade, I can put Eminger with Phaneuf, Gardiner with Colaiacovo, and Fraser with Ranger, and the top line is now centered by Stastny, with Kadri centering JVR on the 2nd line, MKG is the 3rd, and Bolland is centering a great 4th line. I only need to find a 2nd line RW; between those 2, it won't be terribly hard. Now you have 3 above average lines, and a very, very good 4th line, with at least $7.5 million in cap space (I probably don't make all those signings, but I figured easier to make them all, that way the cap space is as low as it could be when handled by somebody who knows hockey). So you'd rather have the team you have than that? I guess it's true what they say: you get the team you deserve.

Lupul - Stastny - Kessel

JVR - Kadri - Knuble?

MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin

Mason - Bolland - Colborne?

Phaneuf - Eminger

Gardiner - Colaiacovo

Fraser - Ranger

Reimer

Bernier

Healthy Scratches: C Trevor Smith, C/W Anthony Steward or RW Akim Aliu, D Korbinian Holzer and $7.5 million in cap space (so you can easily add a defender to replace Holzer if you want, like Michael Sauer, so you can send Holzer to the AHL). Maybe you add Ian White or Ryan Whitney (for cheap) to upgrade the NHL roster and bump Fraser or Ranger to healthy scratch status. Either way, I think I did a much better job than your GM.

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#16 SchulzEricT
September 24 2013, 07:15AM
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@SchulzEricT

My mistake: I forgot to include Grabovski's contract. That means you have more like $1.5 million in space, which is a big difference, but still better than what you have (and a better team, in my opinion). That's if you include the Stastny trade, although it would be difficult to keep MacArthur in that case. You could keep MacArthur, or sign Franson, or make the Stastny trade. Possibly the first two are both possible. However you do it, I see the on-ice product being better than what you have now.

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