Who Had A Better Free Agency Day: Dave Nonis or a Potato?

I meant to photoshop a large potato over Brian Burke, sitting next to Nonis. - Bruce Bennett

While trying to figure out what the Leafs' roster looks like right now, I thought I'd ask the tough question: Did Dave Nonis out-GM a potato?

Dave Nonis and Randy Carlyle made some controversial moves yesterday, so to figure out whether the duo deserves accolades or scorn, I thought I would compare Nonis' July 5th Leafs roster to a potato's.

Rules: The potato cannot extend the Leafs' UFAs, nor can it sign new ones. We will consider Colton Orr's extension a "July 5th" move. It will not undo trades, so Bolland and Bernier are still on the roster. Lastly, the potato must re-sign RFAs at 200% of their previous AAV - it's a potato, not a skilled negotiator. So how did our two GMs fare?

  • Colton Orr: Dave Nonis chose to re-sign the facepuncher at 925k for two years. The potato could not, and Orr walks as a UFA. Strong opener by the potato.
  • Frazer McLaren: Nonis chose to re-sign this other facepuncher - because you never want to leave home with out two wasted roster slots - for 700k over two years. The potato re-signed McLaren at 1.265M over two years. Nice job, Nonis - you beat the potato by 565k!
  • Mikhail Grabovski: Nonis opted to buyout the Leafs' strongest center, who, after spending a year playing some of the toughest zone starts and competition of any forward in the league, had certainly earned more icetime by any sane definition of the word "earned." The potato did not buy out Grabbo, which also saved a compliance buyout that the potato could use elsewhere, if it were a sentient human being.
  • Clarke MacArthur: Neither Nonis nor the potato opted to re-sign Clarke MacArthur. The strong-possession winger would go on to sign the best contract of July 5th, providing cheap play for a division rival.
  • Tyler Bozak: Nonis chose to re-sign the possession black hole and Phil Kessel-inhibitor for 5 years at 4.2M (get it? 42?). The potato could not re-sign Bozak, as it cannot enter into a legally binding agreement, so he walked as a UFA.
  • David Clarkson: Nonis signed the 30 year old Clarkson to a 7 year, 5.25M contract. The marginal upgrade on Clarke MacArthur reportedly left money on the table to come to Toronto over Edmonton, but it's hard to imagine a world where that contract doesn't haunt the Leafs in 3-4 years. The potato did not sign Clarkson.
  • Jonathan Bernier: Nonis extended Bernier to a 2 year, 2.9M extension. This is a significant extension over his previous cap hit of 1.25M, during which Bernier started just 30 games, saw 689 shots against, and posted a 914 SVP. It's clear that Bernier is being paid primarily for the hype, rather than for being a proven NHL starter. The potato, per the earlier rules, re-signed Bernier at 2.5M, saving the Leafs 400k.
  • TJ Brennan: Dave Nonis was able to acquire UFA depth defenseman TJ Brennan, likely to play the left side behind Gunnarsson, Gardiner, Liles, and maybe Fraser or, early in the year, Rielly. The potato was not able to sign TJ Brennan.
Okay, so, those are all the Leafs' moves on July 5th. Who had a better day? Let's look at the rosters, care of Cap Geek of course:

Dave Nonis:

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)
James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m)
Joe Colborne ($0.000m) / Nazem Kadri ($0.000m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)
Frazer McLaren ($0.700m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Colton Orr ($0.925m)
Spencer Abbott ($0.000m) /
DEFENSEMEN
Carl Gunnarsson ($0.000m) / Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m)
Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($0.000m)
John-Michael Liles ($3.875m) / Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m)
T.J. Brennan ($0.600m) / Mark Fraser ($0.000m)
GOALTENDERS
Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m)
James Reimer ($1.800m)
OTHER
Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m)
Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m)
RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit)
Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%)
------
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $53,729,167; BONUSES: $300,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $10,870,833

Nonis has $10.9M to spend on re-signing at least 3 RFAs (Kadri, Franson, and Gunnarsson) and filling a hole at 3rd line left wing (currently Colborne) and the 13th forward (placeholder is Spencer Abbott), and Mark Fraser. Let's see how the potato did:

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Mikhail Grabovski ($5.500m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)
James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($0.000m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)
Carter Ashton ($1.040m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Joe Colborne ($0.000m)
Frazer McLaren ($1.265m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Jerry D'Amigo ($1.083m)
Spencer Abbott ($0.000m) /
DEFENSEMEN
Carl Gunnarsson ($0.000m) / Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m)
Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($0.000m)
John-Michael Liles ($3.875m) / Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m)
Jesse Blacker ($0.870m) / Mark Fraser ($0.000m)
GOALTENDERS
Jonathan Bernier ($2.500m)
James Reimer ($1.800m)

------
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $51,411,667; BONUSES: $872,500
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $13,760,833

The potato has 13.76M to re-sign the same 3 RFAs, the same 3rd line winger (again held by Colborne), the same extra forward (Abbott). The potato also has one remaining compliance buyout, which could be used to remove a near $4M player from our third pairing. Additionally, while the potato's third line seems weak, it's important to remember that Clarke MacArthur signed for just $2.21M more of a cap hit than Carter Ashton, which a sentient human being could have signed and still had more cap space than Dave Nonis.

Cast your vote: Who came away from July 5th with a better roster? Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis, or a nondescript potato?

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