As Always We Ask, What’s Next?

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Just as every fan base around the NHL is asking themselves right now, us Leafs fans are also wondering what’s next for the Leafs to accomplish?

First off, we’ll talk a little about what has already happened. As it stands, this is the Leafs roster:

Obviously, with free agency still in full swing, this could change at any minute, but at least we can get an idea about what they could look like in the fall.

With the additions of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Ryan Reaves up front, the lineup certainly got a lot more chirpy and lively. The question now is if that can translate into wins in the post season. According to Brad Treliving, these guys play with a “little more snot” and thats something that the Leafs were missing. As the father of two children under 2, I’m honestly not sure why anybody wants a lot of snot around. I have a lot of snot in my life and it’s fuckin terrible. Hopefully it’s more fun to watch on my favourite hockey team than bubble out of my kids nose.

On the backend they added John Klingberg, because the ghost of Kyle Dubas is still wandering the halls of MLSE’s front offices. I’m not sure I understand the signing based on the fact that Treliving spoke about the current group being too soft and small, but at least he hates Matt Tkachuk as much as I do.

One thing that he does very well is walk the blueline, confuse the piss out of defenders and get pucks on net. Hopefully he brings that element to the Leafs, because a threat from the point is definitely something they’ve been missing for a few years now.

Aside from the additions, there are a few problems to get past.

For starters, this roster is $1.6M over the cap and the obvious solution to any cap issues they have will revolve around goaltender Matt Murray. Unfortunately it’s not a simple solution anymore, as burying him in the minors would still leave the team almost $1.5M over the cap ceiling. He’ll have to be bought out, traded, or placed on LTIR before the season starts and my money is on a trade out of Toronto. With any trade comes hurdles and with Murray that means getting around his 10 team no-trade list and the $6M owed to him in his final contract year. Calling these things hurdles may be an understatement, as asking any team to pay a player $6M that hasn’t had a decent season in years, while also requiring that they not send any money back to Toronto, is a very tall task. Either way, a clean break via trade would leave the Leafs with a touch over $3M in capspace.

A buyout, on the other hand, would leave the Leafs with $2.3M in capspace. The question then is if that’s enough to re-sign goaltender Ilya Samsonov. In my opinion, considering he signed in Toronto for $1.8M after a couple of “meh” years, it’s likely that the player will be asking for more than a half a million dollar raise after a good (but not great) season.

To me, simply trading Murray and giving Samsonov the $3M left available is the simple solution and it’s the simplest solutions that are often the ones used. However, there is this:

I didn’t get that impression. Actually, I went the other way with it, but if you’d like to judge for yourself, here’s Treliving speaking to the media earlier today:

The final 45 seconds covers his stance on the defense, where he stats that they’ll continue to look at opportunities there. There doesn’t appear to be much confidence in his voice, but I’d love to be wrong because this defensive unit, in my opinion, isn’t one that’s built for the rigors of the NHL postseason.

If Treliving does want to make moves, one that is starting to make more and more sense is parting ways with star winger, William Nylander. As it did last time, his contract negotiations aren’t going well, which has many people asking if it’s simply time to cut bait and get what you can for him. The organization is putting on a brave face for this one, but at some point they just have to realize that Nylander is going to want more than he’s worth and contenders are always pushed to the limit of their spending, so moving on is the best play. They need to avoid a repeat of what happened with Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary (Gaudreau and Nylander share the same agent) and recoup some valuable assets for the player, before it’s too late.

It’s very possible that going this route can open up enough capspace to not have to spend assets fixing Kyle Dubas’ blunder, that is Matt Murray, while also helping to push the defense forward.

Thoughts are always welcome.