Money Per Minute: How Efficient Are Leaf Salaries?

One of the ways that we try to determine player value in relation to how good or efficient a player's contract is, is to calculate how much money a player was spent per point of production that we got out of them.  That's one interesting and useful way to try to determine player value, but like all statistics, it provides us just a partial picture.  One of the things that it doesn't do is tell us much about the value of players who perform roles other than driving offensive production; for example, defensive defensemen, or forwards who play a checking role or clock lots of time on the penalty kill.  To try to give us a bit more information to use when evaluating contract efficiency, I've decided to look at this from an alternate perspective - how much does each player get paid for each minute of ice time per game he plays?

I've included every player who was a regular in the lineup at some point in the season, which for my purposes means they've played at least 20 games, roughly a quarter of the season.  I've collected the ice time figures from  That's a good source for this information because if you view rosters by team, it only lists statistics collected for the duration of that player's stay with the team you're looking at; when some of the players here like Joffrey Lupul and Kris Versteeg changed teams during the year, that's important.  As you'd probably expect, I've used Capgeek for salary information, with three exceptions - Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, and Luke Schenn.  Because those three were eligible for widely ranging bonuses, I've used the expected actual salaries I calculated in this post for those three.  For Nazem Kadri I simply used his base salary without any bonuses included, since I'm reasonably certain he wouldn't have hit any of them.  The dollar figures here are all the cap hit, not the actual salary, since the idea is to determine which players are cap efficient.


Here's the data, divided by defender/forward, since the expected minutes at each position differs notably:

TOI Cap Hit

Keith Aulie 19:07 $733,333.00 $38,360.92
Carl Gunnarsson 18:14 $800,000.00 $43,875.69
Luke Schenn 22:22 $1,512,500.00 $67,622.95
Brett Lebda 13:20 $1,450,000.00 $108,750.00
Francois Beauchemin 23:45 $3,800,000.00 $160,000.00
Tomas Kaberle 22:28 $4,250,000.00 $189,169.14
Dion Phaneuf 25:18 $6,500,000.00 $256,917.00
Mike Komisarek 13:37 $4,500,000.00 $330,477.36


TOI Cap Hit $/minute

Joey Crabb 12:58 $525,000.00 $40,488.43
Darryl Boyce 11:22 $527,500.00 $46,407.62
Tim Brent 11:39 $575,000.00 $49,356.22
Mike Brown 10:05 $537,500.00 $53,305.79
Nazem Kadri 15:46 $870,000.00 $55,179.70
Tyler Bozak 19:16 $1,087,500.00 $56,444.64
John Mitchell 12:30 $725,000.00 $58,000.00
Clarke MacArthur 17:06 $1,100,000.00 $64,327.49
Fredrik Sjostrom 11:12 $750,000.00 $66,964.29
Jay Rosehill 5:12 $512,500.00 $98,557.69
Nikolai Kulemin 17:19 $2,350,000.00 $135,707.41
Mikhail Grabovski 19:21 $2,900,000.00 $149,870.80
Kris Versteeg 18:55 $3,083,333.00 $162,995.58
Colby Armstrong 16:07 $3,000,000.00 $186,142.71
Colton Orr 5:04 $1,000,000.00 $197,368.42
Joffrey Lupul 17:51 $4,250,000.00 $238,095.24
Phil Kessel 19:38 $5,400,000.00 $275,042.44


To help put that data in perspective, here's the average $/minute at each position:

Defenders - $149,396.63

Forwards - $113,779.67

It costs significantly more for a minute of play from a defender - 31.3% more, to be specific.  Is that an expected outcome of the fact that defenders play more minutes, or is it a sign that Burke has assembled an inefficient defence corps?  I'm not sure, so I'll leave that for you to discuss.

What other conclusions can we draw?  The players with the most efficient contracts tend to be players who play on entry level deals or cheap 2-way contracts, both at forward and defence.  After that, the most efficient forwards tend to be bottom-6 guys who are also capable of playing PK minutes.  The next most efficient defenders are actually guys on somewhat expensive mid-tier deals who eat up a lot of minutes.  The most expensive forwards are players counted on primarily to score, so it seems as though there is a premium paid for scoring talent, which we would expect. And the most expensive defenders are, unsurprisingly, guys on big money deals.

Within that framework, we can try to find players playing above or below their pay grade.  On defense, only Mike Komisarek really stands out to me as a guy whose contract is horribly inefficient, which isn't news to anyone.  I don't think there's anyone on the Leafs defence whose efficiency is really any better than we'd expect. 

At forward, one thing that we can see is that enforcers are a waste of cap space.  Colton Orr has the 5th most inefficient contract overall, and 3rd among forwards.  He's horribly overpaid.  Jay Rosehill is closer to the middle of the pack, and he is a bit below the average for forwards, but he's still more than twice as expensive per minute than other 4th line grinders like Mike Brown and Darryl Boyce.  I'd consider this to be further evidence that enforcers are a waste of a roster spot.  Colby Armstrong strikes me as another guy who is slotted well above other similar players.  He just doesn't provide the kind of scoring you'd expect to see out of a guy with that kind of $/minute value.  Clarke MacArthur is the only forward I'd argue has an especially efficient contract.  Bozak looks similar, and eats up a ton of minutes, but was on an entry-level deal.  It'll be interesting to see what his $/minute figure looks like next year after he signs a new contract and (ideally) moves down to 3C from 1C. 

So there you have it.  This information doesn't tell us much on its own (except that Komisarek's contract is a train wreck, which we already knew), but in combination with other measures of player value and contract efficiency, hopefully it gives us a bit of better insight into how well our players are performing relative to their contracts. is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of

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