The Leafs aren’t in cap hell, but some creativity is still required if they want to improve

The phrase thrown around a lot is “run it back.” That’s not an entirely bad idea given the success the Leafs had in the regular season, and the first round was not the physical mismatch of past postseasons. You could probably play that Lightning and Leafs series 100 times and not be surprised to have both teams walk away with 50 wins. The Leafs weren’t bad and there isn’t a need for a complete overhaul.
Running it back becomes a fantasy versus reality when you look at the cap situation. Of the 23 roster regulars at the end of the season, 10 of the players need new contracts. Some players like Jason Spezza, Colin Blackwell, and Ondrej Kase aren’t going to break the bank. Others like Ilya Lyubushkin or arguably the three previously mentioned players are ones that you might be comfortable seeing the Leafs move on from, and in reality, the Leafs are going to find a way of unloading Petr Mrazek’s contract, we just don’t know how yet and a buyout keeps a bit of extra money hitting the cap, not to mention the fact that it opens up another pricier position to fill because it’s doubtful that even “Run it back” e …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Should the Leafs plan for a year without Marner?

Yesterday I decided to float one of hastily thrown together thoughts on twitter:

My current hot take is that if Marner hasn’t agreed to a deal by July 1st the Leafs should be players in free agency for Karlsson or Skinner and make Marner wait for 2020-21
— Jon (@FatsSundin) April 30, 2019
To my surprise it wasn’t met with immediate disgust, and threats on my life so perhaps it is something that warrants at least a little exploration.
At this point let’s look at what we know to be true.
The Leafs have $68M committed to salary next season. That’s accounting for Nathan Horton being moved onto the Long Term Injured Reserve.
The salary cap is expected to be around $83M. Of course it could go in the Leafs favour and be $85M or we could see it lower as well, but $83M seems to be the number everyone is comfortable with.
In addition to Marner the Leafs need to sign Johnsson, Kapanen, and fill two more defense positions and one forward position. This is assuming that Justin Holl will be the only one sitting in the press box every night, and in reality there will probably be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation