There are a lot of cap numbers being thrown around, but this is basically how things look as of today. If you ice this roster:
Bunting – Matthews – Marner
Kerfoot – Tavares – Nylander
Engvall – Kampf – Jarnkrok
??? – ???? – Aube-Kubel
Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Giordano – Liljegren
That leaves the team with $1.66M in cap space. They still have to sign Sandin and add 2 forwards for the 4th line in this scenario.
This roster obviously includes waiving Kyle Clifford, Wayne Simmonds, Adam Gaudette, Jordie Benn, Victor Mete and Carl Dahlstrom, which isn’t a big deal in my opinion, as all are either older or don’t have a ton of room to improve in this writer’s opinion. However, it also means waiving Denis Malgin, Joey Anderson and Mac Hollowell, which is where management could run into some problems.
First, Anderson and Hollowell have been pretty good for the Toronto Marlies, with Anderson in particular having the potential to bring more depth scoring and a grinders mentality to the lineup, which is something the Leafs lack. Anderson notched 26 goals in 56 games with the AHL Marlies last season and if he could bring anything close to that type of goal scoring to the big club it would mean a lot for the teams depth scoring. Hollowell is a 5’9″ puck moving defender, which seems to be something the organization has an abundance of. That doesn’t mean exposing him to waivers is a particularly smart play. It just means that if you lose him the Marlies would simply turn to players like Victor Mete to play his minutes.
As for Denis Malgin, it may be that he’s forced onto the roster in a sad attempt to not lose the trade that saw Mason Marchment head to the Florida Panthers in exchange for him. Marchment, as most of us know, had a terrific year for the Panthers last season and the ink isn’t dry on his 4 year, $18M contract with the Dallas Stars. Who knows if he can continue his high scoring pace, but at the moment it appears that the deal was a clear loss for GM Kyle Dubas. The hope here is that Malgin, who has had scoring success at the AHL level and appeared to be building on that a few years back as he scored 11 goals and 22pts in 51 NHL games, can have an impact this time around for the Leafs. He played 8 games toward the end of the 2019-20 season for the Leafs, but failed to record a point. Since then he has been developing in the Swiss National League and is hoping to stick in the NHL this time. My only hope here is that if he isn’t ready, the team doesn’t try to force it, which would only hurt them in the wins column. Obviously I don’t have much faith in Malgin, I simply feel that Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe won’t share that sentiment, even if I turn out to be correct.
Assuming all of these players are waived, regardless of what happens after that, again, the team is left with the aforementioned $1.66M in cap space to sign Rasmus Sandin and fill two forward positions.
There’s a very simple solution to this problem, which would be to move on from the caphit of defender Justin Holl. At $2M, he would open up enough space to sign Rasmus Sandin (unless they overpay Sandin), while the other $1.66M would be enough to add two forwards making $750K, which is the NHL’s league minimum salary. Easy peasy, right? Right!! Except that would still mean exposing some players to waivers that they may be reluctant to lose. Jordie Benn and Adam Gaudette, in particular, appear to be players that the organization signed with an NHL role in mind (both make $750K as well).
Perhaps their reluctance to expose some players to waivers could mean walking away from Alex Kerfoot’s $3.5M caphit as well, because anything else, such as asking Jake Muzzin to waive his NTC, is harder to achieve.
The coming days will answer all of these questions. Stay tuned!!
All salary information courtesy of capfriendly.com