Ch-ch-ch-changes

Mark Zeisberger takes a look at how things will be changing over the next few weeks if all goes to plan. Cliff Fletcher is saying the kinds of things that show that MLSE is not making a mistake in leaving him in charge.

On making changes to the squad
Hopefully, our team is going to look substantially different. If we can bring in at least five or six players, new faces, that would be good.

This is definitely easier said than done. While there are rumours that McCabe would be open to moving back to Long Island the rest of the Muskoka Five (now four!) seem less inclined to go. Darcy Tucker's agent has said flat-out that he will not waive his no-trade clause. Kubina's contract allows a window to trade him and despite what he showed at the end of last year I think that the Leafs need to move him. His contributions to the team's success have to be moved to three/four years down the line when the Leafs will be competing for the Cup (in theory). Plus, moving him this year opens up another spot for a young defenceman (Kronwall and Harrison might be tempted to stay based on that opening). Kaberle won't waive his NTC but the team shouldn't want to anyway. He is signed to a great contract and in his prime and if you successfully move Kubina then you need at least one competent defender to stay to mentor the young players.

On Buyouts

It will probably be June 27 or 28.

The two most popular targets for buyouts in stories are Darcy Tucker and Andrew Raycroft. The latter because no one would want him and the former because his is the only contract that would not result in prohibitively large payments although they would be stretched over six years. For argument's sake, I'll also include how Bryan McCabe and Jason Blake's would play out. All of the salary information comes via NHLSCAP.com as do the buyout calculations. Here's how these scenarios would play out (all figures are in millions):

 

Andrew Raycroft Buyout
Year 3 of SPC Year 4 of SPC
Salary Due $ 2.2
Cap Hit $ 2
Buyout Amount $ 1.47
Buyout Payment by Year $ 0.73 $ 0.73
Buyout Savings (1-4) $ 1.47 ($ 0.73)
Buyout Cap Hit (2-5) $ 0.53 $ 0.73

Darcy Tucker Buyout
Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5 Yr 6 Yr 7
Salary Due $ 3 $ 3 $ 3
Cap Hit $ 3 $ 3 $ 3
Buyout Amount $ 6
Pmt/Year $ 1 $ 1 $ 1 $ 1 $ 1 $ 1
Savings (1-4) $ 2 $ 2 $ 2 ($ 1) ($ 1) ($ 1)
Cap Hit (2-5) $ 1 $ 1 $ 1 $ 1 $ 1 $ 1

Jason Blake Buyout
Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5 Yr 6 Yr 7 Yr 8 Yr 9
Salary Due $ 4.5 $ 4.5 $ 3 $ 3
Cap Hit $ 4 $ 4 $ 4 $ 4
Buyout Amount $ 10.7
Pmt/Year $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3

Savings (1-4)

$ 3.2 $ 3.2 $ 1.7 $ 1.7 ($ 1.3) ($ 1.3) ($ 1.3) ($ 1.3)
Cap Hit (2-5) $ 0.8 $ 0.8 $ 2.3 $ 2.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3 $ 1.3

 

Bryan McCabe Buyout
Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5 Yr 6 Yr 7 Yr 8
Salary Due $ 6.15 $ 4.15 $ 4.15
Cap Hit $ 5.75 $ 5.75 $ 5.75
Buyout Amount $ 9.63
Pmt/Year $1.6 $1.6 $1.6 $1.6 $1.6 $1.6
Savings (1-4) $ 4.55 $ 2.55 $ 2.55 ($ 1.6) ($ 1.6) ($ 1.6)
Cap Hit (2-5) $ 1.2 $ 3.2 $ 3.2 $ 1.6 $ 1.6 $ 1.6

Just to give those that advocate mass buyouts an idea of how oppressive these moves would be here is a table that shows the payments that the Leafs would be making to players to make sure that they don't suit up for them in the future:

Year by Year Buyout Cap Hits
08-09 09-10 10-11 11-12 12-13 13-14 14-15 15-16
Raycroft $0.53 $0.73
Tucker $1.0 $1.0 $1.0 $1.0 $1.0 $1.0
McCabe $1.2 $3.2 $3.2 $1.6 $1.6 $1.6
Blake $0.8 $0.8 $2.3 $2.3 $1.3 $1.3 $1.3 $1.3
Total $3.53 $5.73 $6.5 $4.9 $3.9 $3.9 $1.3 $1.3

Considering the uncertainty surrounding the salary cap and the need to re-sign players as the years pass buying out McCabe and Blake would put some serious handcuffs on the Leafs. That would be especially true in years 3 and 4 of the Wilson Era when the equivalent of two top forwards is being taken up by cap hits. The Tucker and Raycroft buyouts would be a small enough burden that it would make sense that they would be the two targeted. As mentioned before, McCabe is apparently willing to go to Long Island so it would be better to swing a deal for any assets rather than paying him for nothing. And in the discussion about Blake yesterday, considering his situation and his performance last year he likely won't have any suitors so it's better to examine how to use him properly rather than buying him out.

On Signing Free Agents
We are not interested in older free agents, guys in the 32, 33 or older range.

Thank God for small miracles. The oldest the Leafs should be looking is 27 so that come year 4 they are 31 and still in their prime. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) there are no impact UFAs in that range.

On The Draft

We'll explore all options. If we really like a guy and can move up to get him, we'll look at it. If we stay put, that's fine because we will get a blue- chipper at seven. A lot of years, you can't say that.

Self-loathing Leafs fan Moose has drawn up four scenarios that could conceivably come to pass at the draft.

  • The Kovalchuk deal is completely off the table. There is no way the Leafs will make a deal along those lines with any team unless the player in question is named Malkin or Crosby.
  • The Schremp deal could fly but the sense I have from reading the Oilers' blogs is that Schremp has been passed by a lot of their other young forwards and his skating is a huge issue. However, it would address the Leafs' lack of skill at the forward position.
  • The Kings deal also helps address the lack of skill at the forward position with a 26 year old forward and the Leafs' scouting department gets a lot more picks to use to stock the coffers. I don't know though that Frolov is a big enough draw to move a 7th pick. If the Leafs could negotiate a contract with Cammalleri before a deal was made then the move has legs.
  • If you think that the Leafs' are not as bad as their record indicated last year and that Wilson will make a big difference to the team then the Nashville deal could be a stunning move. A lot would depend on what was available to the Leafs when that pick comes around. I don't think that the Leafs will make the playoffs next year but I don't think that they'll be in the running for the 1st overall pick either. I would guess that 7th is likely as high as it will get for the Leafs and if they aren't able to move any of the veterans than they might move higher. In exchange for that gamble they would get two top 10 picks in one of the deepest drafts in years. Then again, this could be a case of trading the pick that ended up being Luongo.

In the end, this team as structured, will see significant changes and the next couple of weeks will shape the future of the franchise. What a perfect time for a vacation.

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