The Old Dog

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I’m calling it. These are the dog days of summer, where very little happens and nobody seems to care.

There’s little news to report, other than Ilya Samsonov’s salary arbitration case, which is scheduled for July 21st. By simply filing for arbitration Samsonov opened up a second buyout window for the Leafs, which they’re expected to use to rid themselves of the Matt Murray contract. Kyle Dubas’ ridiculous and, luckily, final attempt at shoring up the goaltending position was a massive and unsurprising failure. Again, luckily, it’s the only contract that Brad Treliving has to deal with in order to get on even ground with the team, so that’s a positive at least.

The Matt Murray buyout numbers:

Year 1: $687,500 (TOR caphit), $229,167 (OTT caphit)
Year 2: $2,000,000 (TOR caphit), $666,667 (OTT caphit)

It’s nice to know that the Senators will take a little hit as well, but it’s not fun to think about the fact that next year, when the Auston Matthews and William Nylander extensions kick in and they are looking for room to possibly extend players such as Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi (depending on how they do this year) there will be a $2M caphit to deal with. The cap ceiling is expected to rise after the coming season, with some estimates coming in at around a $4M jump. Matt Murray will eat up half of that, with Matthews likely to take the rest and Nylander set to force some players off of the roster altogether.

What a fun situation they’re created for themselves with these bloated contracts and what a great trade for Murray, who came with 3rd and 7th round selections attached, as he was a pure cap dump, of which the 3rd was later traded to the St. Louis Blues as part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade….. which amounted to absolutely nothing.

After the Matt Murray trade the team will have 2.3M in capspace, which is interesting because Ilya Samsonov had a 27-10-5 record this year, to go with a 2.33GAA and a 0.919SV%. Those numbers would suggest that he has earned more than a half a million bump in pay over the $1.8M he was signed for this past season, so it could leave the team in a bit of a pickle.

The Leafs roster is projected to look something like this:

If Samsonov commands 3M or more, that would mean the team could be forced to demote a player like Pontus Holmberg or Matthew Knies, who are the only two players expected to make the roster that are waivers exempt, in order to stay cap compliant. If they do this it would mean running a roster of 11F/7D until somebody is injured badly enough to justify taking up an injured reserve position, allowing them to recall the appropriate players to run a 12F/6D roster.

All of this is barring additional trades this summer, of course.

The real shame of it all is that there are players on the market that could fill depth roles, that would come with a dash of potential as well, such as Maxime Comtois and Cal Foote, that are worth taking a flyer on. Additionally, there are players like Austin Watson, Simon Benoit, Josh Bailey, Derek Grant, Jujhar Khaira and Tyler Motte, to name a few, that could fill roles at the bottom of the roster and would be as good or better than some of the players the Leafs are projected to have in those spots currently. It’s the Leafs centre position that is in the most need of help at forward though, with no help on the open market left, unless they can somehow convince one of Jonathan Toews or Patrice Bergeron to come to Toronto to finish their careers. Obviously no team in their right mind would say no to Bergeron, but it’s Boston or nothing for the future hall of famer. Toews, on the other hand….. there’s a chance he could agree to join a contender, but the Leafs have never really earned the title of contender, it was thrust upon them, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. He’d be a fine 3C though and he knows how to win.

But I digress. The Leafs can’t entertain the idea of adding these players unless they refuse to bend to the demands of their star players, instead opting to trade them out of Toronto to open up space and improve the depth on the team.

Not much happening, but lots to think about as the summer wears on.