May 27, 2024

Toronto Maple Leafs Have Cap Space for a Star Player (Or Two)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have demonstrated greater depth than initially anticipated, providing them with numerous options to shape their playoff roster. Initially facing the challenge of assembling a full NHL team, favorable developments have enhanced their flexibility.

Timothy Liljegren seems poised for an expanded role, Jake McCabe has transitioned from being deemed unplayable to highly effective, Connor Timmins is establishing himself as a genuine NHL player, Noah Gregor is proving his utility, and Nick Robertson’s performance is compelling coach Sheldon Keefe to increase his playing time. Even Martin Jones is delivering positive results. Importantly, these five players have addressed roster concerns at virtually no cost.

Consequently, rather than piecing together a playoff roster through multiple acquisitions, the Leafs could concentrate on adding a smaller number of players expected to make a more significant impact than their less expensive counterparts. With diminished requirements for new players and the potential for ample cap space, the team is in a favorable position.

The Leafs currently have $4 million available due to John Klingberg’s season-ending injury, and potential additional cap space could arise if Ryan Reaves is sidelined, potentially yielding another $1.3 million. Exploring cap space from declining players with substantial contracts could involve trading Ilya Samsonov, who makes $3.5 million. If Joseph Woll assumes the starting role and Martin Jones serves as the backup, trading Samsonov could contribute significantly to the team’s financial resources, given that his contract expires after this season.

This maneuver would provide the Leafs with at least $7.5 million to spend, even if Reaves returns. For more substantial additions, the Leafs might consider trading TJ Brodie, who has seen a decline and has a $5 million contract expiring at the end of the season. This move could potentially generate $12 million in cap space, offering the Leafs significant financial flexibility.

With this newfound financial maneuverability, the Leafs could target impactful players when teams start exiting playoff contention. While the possibility of acquiring a player like Zach Werenski for the blue-line exists, navigating such a move without trading William Nylander remains uncertain. Additionally, Elias Lindholm could be an enticing option as a third-line center.

In summary, the Toronto Maple Leafs, bolstered by emerging talent, minimal financial commitments, and the potential to create additional cap space, find themselves in a position of considerable flexibility to enhance their team mid-season.

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