Around the NHL: Big money going out to big name defensemen

It seems since the NHL brought in the salary cap in 2005, it seems like the league goes through a pretty consistent process every five or so years. The cap is lowered, teams spend two or three seasons trying to clear out all of their bad contracts, and the second they all do and the cap finally goes up, they waste it all again on even bigger contracts, until the cap is eventually lowered and they repeat the process all over again.
The league has once again reached that point of throwing a lot of money at players, which is incredible considering that just last season teams were in cap crunches. But hey, what’s the point of learning from past mistakes anyways.
It seemed a lot of these big deals were given to defensemen this offseason, as a lot of “big name” blueliners found themselves either being free agents this offseason, or needed an extension for next season. I say big name loosely, as there are a few big names that have value in name only, but we’ll get those.
So, we’re going to take a quick look at these contracts, and see where they stack up to …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

MLBTR projects the Blue Jays’ 12 arbitration-eligible players will cost the team $43 million

MLB Trade Rumours released its annual arbitration salary projections on Monday, and here’s what they have for the Blue Jays and the 12 arb-eligible players on the roster…

Ross Stripling – $4.4MM
Jose Berrios – $10.9MM
Jacob Barnes – $1.2MM
Teoscar Hernandez – $10.0MM
Adam Cimber – $1.5MM
Trevor Richards – $1.1MM
Ryan Borucki – $800K
Danny Jansen – $1.5MM
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – $7.9MM
Tim Mayza – $1.2MM
Trent Thornton – $900K
Cavan Biggio – $1.7MM
All told, that’s just a shade over $43 million for the group. Add that to the $58 million the team has committed to the 2022 payroll currently (George Springer, Hyun Jin Ryu, Randal Grichuk, and Lourdes Gurriel), and you have just over $100 million before considering free agents and other players who would flesh out the roster.
Of course, these are just projections and, obviously, nothing is set in stone, but MLBTR is generally pretty good with these things, so it’s a good place to start thinking about the off-season. Looking up and down this list, I would assume that 10 of these players are tendered contracts, with Jacob Barnes being a pretty easy choice to cut loose and Trent Thornton being a realistic 40-man roster casualty.
Another thing to consider is that a few of these players …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Abandoning the salary cap for a luxury tax would benefit the NHL more than just the Leafs

The NHL’s salary cap was introduced in 2005 in an effort to bring more parity to the league, which would theoretically make the NHL more exciting for fans to watch as every team had a chance to be competitive. At least that’s the story we were told, the truth is the salary cap exists only to save billionaires money and prevent athletes from getting paid what they’re worth.
In fact, over the past decade the NHL has actually had the least parity among the big four North American sports with only six unique champions compared to seven in the NBA and eight in each of the NFL and MLB.
Whatever the reasoning, it’s time that we admit that the salary cap experiment has failed, at least in its current iteration. With NHL free agency season set to start today, fans should be excited to see if their team is able to make a major signing, the kind that can vault a contender into a Stanley Cup favourite, however that unfortunately won’t be the case. Even with stars like Dougie Hamilton and Philipp Grubauer available, the vast majority of teams are unable to sign any of these …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Building a Sustainable Contender

Without a salary cap in a league, there will always be small markets in a league. Baseball is one of those sports that doesn’t have a salary cap.

Toronto is one of the largest cities in North America and is by no means a small market, yet, the Jays Front Office has used tactics often seen in small-market teams. How did the Jays turn an old team with a barren farm into a team that is a contender with a top-seven farm system in the MLB? Well, the short version is that they used small market tactics to create a sustainable contender.
The beginning
2015 and 2016 were fun. I only started watching baseball a lot around 2014, meaning that my fondest memory of the Jays came in the two following years. Alex Anthopoulos built a team that in all honesty should have won the World Series in 2015. In 2016, Atkins and Shapiro had taken over, but the team’s makeup was largely thanks to AA.
While 2015 and 2016 were nice, AA didn’t leave much for the future. He signed Russell Martin to a bad contract, he traded for a Troy Tulowitzki who was constantly injured as a Blue Jays. These moves helped …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs have the cap space to address roster holes but not to improve significantly

It’s the annual tradition of being in salary cap hell. We make light of it, largely because all it takes it one trade to seemingly rid yourself of it, or one expansion draft claim (read: Kerfoot) away from a bit more flexibility existing as well. Still, that doesn’t change that the Leafs have about $12.5M available to address four forward positions, one defense position, one goaltender position, and any reserve players they wish to put on their roster this year. That’s 85% of their cap space spent on the lineup so far, and when you consider that the top four defense, starting goaltender, and four of the top six forwards are accounted for in that, it doesn’t look terrible. When you consider that the Leafs could potentially use a course correction, that doesn’t seem like a lot of money to do something significant.
First, here’s the roster as it exists today…

LW
C
RW
LD
RD
G
Reserve

Matthews
Marner
Rielly
Brodie
Campbell

Tavares
Nylander
Muzzin
Holl

Engvall
Kerfoot
Mikheyev
Sandin

Spezza

So I’m avoiding all assumptions. No attempt to determine if Kerfoot, Engvall, Dermott, Holl, or a wild card are off to Seattle. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Practice News and Notes: 4 Days Until Playoffs

Now freed from the constraints of the salary cap, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seemingly decided on their playoff lineup for Game 1 on Thursday. At practice today, the Leafs skated with the following lineup:
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Nick Foligno – John Tavares – William Nylander
Alex Kerfoot – Riley Nash – Ilya Mikheyev
Joe Thornton – Jason Spezza – Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly – T.J. Brodie
Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl
Rasmus Sandin – Travis Dermott
Jack Campbell
Frederik Andersen
To the surprise of no one, Sheldon Keefe confirmed today that Campbell will be the starter in Game 1, so breathe a collective sigh of relief Leafs Nation.

Jack Campbell enters the playoffs as the #leafs starter, per Sheldon Keefe.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 16, 2021

Galchenyuk, Engvall, Brooks, Sabourin, Hollowell, Malgin and Bogosian all skated as extras, although it should be noted that Bogosian skated in a red ‘no-contact’ jersey, so while his recovery is apparently going well (Keefe said he is trending towards a return at some point during the Montreal series), he will not be an option going into Game 1.

Sheldon Keefe said it’s “very positive” surrounding Zach Bogosian right now. From what Keefe saw at practice today Bogosian looked good, and he “certainly thinks” …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Ilya Mikheyev applies for salary arbitration and that’s probably a good thing

Ilya Mikheyev has chosen to exercise his right to salary arbitration, and at a quick glance this seems to be a mutually beneficial thing for both Mikheyev and the Leafs.

Mikheyev (TOR) files for arbitration
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 10, 2020

For Mikheyev the decision to go the arbitration route could provide him with a swifter path to unrestricted free agency and a much more competitive contract. Going this route also guarantees the Leafs will have to accept the arbitrators decision. That also gives Mikheyev a bit more leverage in negotiations with the Leafs if they are worried about a high value awarded.
For the Leafs, they find themselves where they could potentially head into arbitration on a player with a very short NHL resume as Mikheyev was injured most of last season. There is a good chance the award will be low. There’s also the fact that arbitration makes Mikheyev ineligible for offer sheets, not that there is any worry of that in the NHL anyway. The trade off is the Leafs giving Mikheyev term now would benefit them more in the long run.

Dubas last night on Mikheyev: “With Ilya, he is going to be an arbitration case potentially …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Darren Dreger reporting the Leafs still in talks with Pietrangelo

Let’s pretend the salary cap doesn’t exist for a moment and enjoy how this could potentially play out…

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights have spoken to Pietrangelo. Interesting to see who else steps forward.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 9, 2020

While there is a lot of talk about the Leafs being in serious trade negotiations with Florida regarding MacKenzie Weegar, they haven’t lost sight of the big fish free agent, Alex Pietrangelo.
RUMOUR: Leafs interested in MacKenzie Weegar

We’ve talked a lot about Pietrangelo on this site over the past few weeks, but if you are interested in reading up on Pietrangelo, Scott Maxwell has a breakdown on how he’d fit in with the Leafs…
How does Alex Pietrangelo statistically fit with the Leafs?

Additionally we might be hearing from Dubas soon, and that will probaby let us know that nothing is imminent for the Leafs and Simmonds in the big haul for Day One.

Dubas avail at 3:30. Indication, but nothing written in stone, #Leafs are done for the day.
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) October 9, 2020

Of course a lot of things can change quickly, and we’ll see how this plays out.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

How the Leafs can creatively bypass the salary cap

With the salary cap staying flat at 81.5 million for the 2020/21 NHL season, most teams are seeking out solutions for managing their finances and the Maple Leafs are no different. Because of the hard cap, rich teams like Toronto aren’t able to flex their financial muscle in the same way that certain MLB or soccer clubs can.

…Or can they?
Sure the team can’t spend over the salary cap and aren’t able to directly send cash to other teams but Kyle Dubas and co. have shown a willingness to get creative when necessary. We saw it most recently at the 2020 trade deadline when the Leafs received a fifth-round pick as part of a three-way trade that saw them take on 1.1 million of Lehner’s cap hit.
Having Brandon Pridham as an Assistant General Manager gives the team some insider information as he helped draft the CBA. Between that knowledge and the comical amount of wealth the franchise holds compared to other teams, there’s some potential to bend but not break the rules. While the Leafs have gotten in trouble for doing so in the past, unless there’s an official rule against what they’re doing, all …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

With the 15th overall pick the Leafs are proud to select… Dawson Mercer?

The Leafs’ salary cap situation is going to be tight for the foreseeable future, and there probably isn’t going to be much money to go around for the bottom half of the lineup. Being able to identify cost effective options, including players on entry level contracts will be paramount for Kyle Dubas as he looks to insulate his talented core with reliable depth pieces. Dawson Mercer of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL is one of the most intelligent and reliable players in this draft, but also boasts enough offensive ability to have climbed all the way up into the middle of the first round in most draft rankings.
Mercer started last year with Drummondville and produced at an impressive rate with 42 points in 26 games. That production, along with his smarts and work ethic, helped earn him a spot on Canada’s World Junior roster. He was held off the score sheet in the tournament, but even making the team and earning minutes on the fourth line was notable for a first-year draft eligible player. Mercer was traded to Chicoutimi following the WJC and his pace slowed as he adjusted to his new surroundings, finishing with 18 points in 16 games …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation