Holiday Monday

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This is how it works. You go to CapFriendly, click on the Leafs page, scroll down – ignoring who they set as NHL roster players – and look at the cap space, then notice the roster size and pass it through one player or another and announce the number.

This is precisely, at the dollar, the ceiling space that the Leafs “have”. It is mathematical. Concrete facts.

Except when Kyle Dubas bluntly lied about not being against the cap when they were, he started talking about flexibility. That was the real part of what he said that day. Flexibility is a euphemism for “I will trade players, even the ones you love.” It’s also a euphemism for “I’m going to sign players that we all have to hope are good enough. “

Dubas could absolutely stop negotiating or signing anyone right now, and work on the contracts for his three RFPs: Ilya Mikheyev, who goes to arbitration if he doesn’t settle first, Joey Anderson and Travis Dermott. . Ceiling space, however you come up with a precision number, is irrelevant to any of these jobs.

We spend so much time on this at PPP, discussing the salary cap issues in detail because the Leafs have spent years making this necessary that I sometimes forget that the general understanding of it all is so vague that it there is still someone reading this who thinks getting an LTIR contract in the trade solves the problem.

There is no problem. There are only choices to be made.

The Maple Leafs must pick 23 or fewer players to form a roster on the final day of training camp, which is $ 81.5 million or less. These are all the ceiling space issues that they need to consider. You can do this in so many different ways with their current roster, this should keep you busy on Armchair GM, sending implausible players to underage for hours.

Most of these choices are not particularly meaningful. Something happened to all of us as we nodded at TJ Brodie’s signing with a certain level of indifference and then focused on the deep players and worried about the pennies. We’ve lost sight of the fact that the top six forwards, goalkeepers and top three defenders are set in stone. After that, there is a list of attackers and defenders who are extremely likely to be part of the squad. And then on the sidelines, there are choices that are not very important.

Here are a few things to consider: The Maple Leafs haven’t signed Mikko Lehtonen and Alexander Barabanov to the team, are working to get them installed now – Lehtonen on a short-term KHL loan, and Barabanov in Toronto now according to some reports – with the intention of telling these men they’re playing in the AHL. They are 26 years old, no prospects who are not members of the junior or the NCAA.

The same goes for Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian. They are part of the team.

Rasmus Sandin was really bad enough in the NHL last year, and the very strong intention may lie in the Maple Leafs management not to play him there at all this year. Or certainly not at first. Nick Robertson is no lock in staying in the NHL after WJC ends.

Pierre Engvall still has a bit of a waiver exemption, which doesn’t mean he should go to AHL to calculate your cap. Aside from the fact that it’s implausible for a team to pay a guy over a million and then declare it to be a mistake and send it to the miners, there’s the simple fact that ‘there will be no AHL to cut it off.

Most people don’t pay much attention to signing AHL-level players to NHL contracts, unless they complain. Leafs fans were terrified of SPC space issues, now they’re terrified of ceiling space issues, although management can add and subtract just fine. But those guys who get ignored are usually listed in dozens, if not hundreds, in free agency, and the Leafs have added… Maybe one? Joey Anderson might spend more time in the AHL, but he has a lot of NHL experience that tells me he should really bomb in training camp to get cut.

There is no room to cut. No one signs AHLs, whether it’s AHL deals (the Leafs have signed one) or NHL deals, because there won’t be an AHL if the NHL starts in January. Let’s say for the sake of argument, the NHL figured out how to start playing on January 1. The first probable date of an AHL debut is March 1.

It means several things. It’s only a – two months from the end of European seasons, and players like Egor Korshkov and Filip Hallander can come in when they’re done and maybe join the current AHL.

We have no idea what rules the NHL and NHLPA will agree to handle something like the playoff rosters with the extra taxi squads. We have no clear idea where players who might be cut will go, but it might not be further than a seat at the Scotiabank Center with a little sign reminding them to leave the mask in case. where they would be in front of the camera. This could have an impact on who the Leafs choose to keep and who is very valuable in trading for teams that don’t swim deep.

The Leafs are not over. This is evident, not by finding a fantastic ceiling space number to believe in, but because they have too many depth defenders who cannot be turned away like Martin Marincin and Calle Rosen. They must do a business there. They also have too much forward depth, some costing more than others.

Pierre Engvall and Justin Hall are the two obvious tradable players to lighten up excess, clear overhead space and not really hurt the Leafs’ real value on the ice.

Engvall, with its little bit of override exemption, is really useful for the kinds of machinations that a team using the LTIR needs on the last day they’re looking to get their roster’s total cap exactly the way they want before they go. assign someone to LTIR. Engvall in Edmonton!

Hall, a right-shooting defender who can pose as one of the top four defenders much better than Cody This has attacking ability, virtually no defensive value, and he should have several teams looking to convince him of his decent deal. .

I don’t think the Leafs are taking steps for cheap depth like Boyd and Vesey just to make ceiling space as some sort of value in its own right. A little space to meet the deadline is good. But there is one line the team gives wins to by leaving it unused.

I think the Leafs are creating “flexibility” to sign another defenseman who is a true top-four, not a good seat filler.

At the end of the day I think they liked their scenario of Pietrangelo so much that they decided to do it for real, cutting depth one overpaid player last six at a time until they have room for Pietrangelo. But instead of trying to sign him, they have decided to go for two defenders who will, combined, do something close to Pietrangelo’s salary. Anytime Vegas gets organized enough to sign it.

It’s my bet, and so far this offseason, Dubas surprises me more than usual, but as always: we’ll see where it goes.

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