As much as it pains me to say, the Leafs roster looks essentially done. There’s a chance that we see some minor moves involving Justin Holl, Travis Dermott, or possibly Pierre Engvall, but it seems that the deck chairs have adequately been shuffled, and even though this doesn’t look like a top tier team in the league, they are decidedly better than last year and may be capable of pulling off some surprises.
|Hyman ($2.25M)||Matthews ($11.634M)||Marner ($10.893M)||Muzzin ($5.625M)||Brodie ($5M)||Andersen ($5M)|
|Tavares ($11M)||Nylander ($6.927M)||Rielly ($5M)||Holl ($2M)||Campbell ($1.6M)|
|Vesey ($900k)||Kerfoot ($3.5M)||Lehtonen ($925k)||Bogosian ($1M)|
|Simmonds ($1.5M)||Boyd ($700k)||Spezza ($700k)|
The above roster leaves $4.185M of cap space, with Mikheyev, Dermott, and Anderson still needing to be signed. Presumably Anderson could be in the AHL, as could Boyd, and others like Malgin, Robertson, Barabanov, or Korshkov could be there in their places, but it doesn’t do much to shake that fact that there is no way of making it fit without team friendly deals by Dermott and Mikheyev, and at least dropping Holl or Dermott. There is also the fact that Mikko Lehtonen is waivers exempt for the time being, and going with a 20 player bare bones roster with Lehtonen on the Marlies to start gets them just in under the wire.
In this situation I’m being cautious in my salary projections, and using Mikheyev at $2.1M, Dermott at $1.8M, and Joey Anderson at $900k. All could be more team friendly, but there’s no guarantee that happens. If they go with this, and keep Lehtonen in the AHL, they’d have roughly $10,000 of wiggle room. This set up also leverages the fact that Pierre Engvall has 15 more games before he requires waivers.
So the question that needs to be asked is how confident do you feel in that roster, and what more can be done to make you more confident? The Leafs are sitting at 40 standard players contracts used out of 50. Three of those are earmarked for Mikheyev, Dermott, and Anderson. The team doesn’t really have a straight up need beyond finding a third string goaltender to park on the Marlies, but there are still players out there who can make this team better. The Leafs defense is looking better, but adding one more bona fide top four defender would silence critics.
While the move to bring in Vesey seems to be an attempt to get the most out of him and Alex Kerfoot, one more established top nine forward would also be beneficial for the Leafs, make a ton of difference for them.
There’s also the matter of the 3rd string goaltender, which almost half the available options of goaltenders with NHL experience last year were goaltenders the Leafs have already moved on from. The rest are Cory Schneider, Jimmy Howard, Aaron Dell, Ryan Miller, and Craig Anderson. I’ll boldly state they are going to go the trade route here, or roll the dice on a Woll/Scott tandem.
The Leafs have options, more options than they should because of the bizarre contract situation going on, and hopefully they can still make a few more modest upgrades in the coming days.