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The many dollar amounts associated with the Maple Leafs cap space

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
2 months ago
When you go to the Maple Leafs Capfriendly page you are greeted by two numbers that you may know pretty well already. The first amount is $0. That amount is how much the Maple Leafs have to spend without Long Term Injury Relief. That number is grim, and nobody likes it.
The second number (as of Sunday December 3rd) is $1,459,999. This number represents the current state of the Maple Leafs including what they have in injury relief dollars. This number has Bobby McMann, Max Lajoie, and Martin Jones all on the roster in addition to Mark Giordano being on the injured reserve (the one that allows for roster space but not cap relief). This number includes Klingberg, Murray, Muzzin, and Liljegren all being on the long term injured reserve and most notably it provides enough space for Timothy Liljegren to be activated. There is still no timeline for when Liljegren is back nor is there any certainty that Mark Giordano won’t be moved to the LTIR depending on the length of his injury, but it’s a comfortable status quo.
Those first two numbers are the very basic numbers but offer little insight into what the Maple Leafs could potentially do as far as spend from now until the trade deadline. As much as the Leafs are in far from an ideal cap situation, with salary retention from other teams, the Leafs are capable of doing a lot of things before we even get around to talking about Toronto shipping out bad contracts elsewhere. Here are a few examples of potential cap situations.
Toronto could have up to $5,843,550 to use as LTIR cap relief. This includes some temporary allocations that would need to be sorted out as it includes both Mark Giordano and Timothy Liljegren on the LTIR as well. This is also using a 20-player roster, so that $5.84M would all be spent on that opening in the lineup. This also has Ryan Reaves demoted to the Marlies, something it doesn’t seem that the Leafs are ready to do. So that’s the extreme version of if the Leafs wanted to spend like mad right now and figure out how to activate players off the LTIR later, there is a lot of money to burn.
If you want to look at the toned-down version of the above approach, with Liljegren, Giordano, activated, and Ryan Reaves still a Leaf, you’d have Lagesson and McMann on the Marlies in addition to Benoit. In this scenario if you are also going with the 20-player roster, you’d need to waive Conor Timmins and as a result the Leafs would have $5,131,050 in cap relief. The reality is the Leafs probably do not want to waive Conor TImmins, so at minimum we’re looking at a 21 player that leaves Toronto with $4,031,050 in cap relief. Still not a bad number.
That brings us around to the realistic, assuming everyone is healthy but Klingberg number. The Leafs probably want seven defencemen in their lineup and with Ryan Reaves as part of the forward equation, it is very likely Toronto wants to stick with 13 forwards on their roster as well. That probably means that Bobby McMann sticks too, and the Leafs have $3,268,550 in cap relief to use. As a pure addition number that isn’t a bad place for the Maple Leafs to be in and with up to 50% salary retention the Leafs are looking at $6.5M players as potential options before even sending a dollar the other way. If you start talking double retention (which I personally don’t think is a great idea and will save that topic for another day), the Leafs could be looking at the $9.75M range.
Now consider that there is always a chance that the Leafs try to send salary out from their roster as well. If a seller is willing to take David Kampf back to have someone under contract for the next few seasons of their rebuild, that’s a win for the Leafs. Ditto if someone is willing to be the retirement home for Ryan Reaves. And while the Leafs are still figuring out what exactly Ilya Samsonov is this year, he too is some salary that could be shed to give the Leafs even more flexibility, although with the condition that the Leafs would absolutely need to find another goaltender along the way.
Given that Brad Treliving’s history doesn’t support him making a number of significant deals between now and the deadline, it is probably best to assume that the cap space the Leafs currently have will be about finding one or two defencemen that best meet the Leafs needs in that price point. I’d argue that putting as much of it as possible towards one really good defenceman is the answer but that too is a debate for another day.
The point is not only do the Maple Leafs have the flexibility to add a significant player they also don’t need to sacrifice depth along the way.

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