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Who Should the Leafs Buy Out?

The next CBA may include a compliance buyout; who should the Leafs use it on?


Rumors are swirling this morning on a new CBA that would include a lower salary cap. To meet this the league would offer teams one compliance buyout that wouldn't count against the cap but would force the team to pay 2/3rds of the player's remaining salary.

The obvious Friday morning question isn't "if Canada gave up three to Germany what's Russia going to do to them?" but instead "who should the Leafs spend this buyout on?".

Let's establish some obvious criteria for who we would want the Leafs to target.

1. Someone who sucks.

Dion Phaneuf may be slightly overpaid but you'd never buy out an actual solid contributor. Guys who play a role and do it well might be overpaid but by the time you find someone to replace them it's a wash.

2. Someone who's got more than a couple years left.

As much as Mike Komisarek blows he's done after 2014. With the way the season is headed he basically has one year left on his deal. Is it worth buying out a guy who can sit in the press box for a year?

I saw someone on Twitter suggest Tim Connolly who at this point will play fewer than 50 more games for Toronto. Not worth a buyout.

3. Someone who plays in a position we expect to have depth in.

To target Komisarek again; he'll be gone before he's a roadblock to guys like Gardiner and Rielly. To look at Connolly the Leafs are so thin at center it's unlikely they'll see significant cap savings after replacing Tim Connolly with anyone else available.

So who do we target? The guys signed past 2014 are: Mikhail Grabovski, James van Riemsdyk, and John-Michael Liles. Grabovski and JVR aren't even considerations for this unless you don't understand hockey on some sort of conceptual level.

And then there was Liles. He's signed through 2015-16 with a cap hit of $3.875M. He had a decent start to the year before his concussion, though his on ice percentages were enormous and we shouldn't expect that level of production to be the norm for a guy who's 31.

Liles is an offense first defenseman and we shouldn't expect much as he ages. Here's a list of d-men who scored over 40pts at age 35. The great majority of them are already Hall of Famers; I think we know that Liles isn't Nicklas Lidstrom or Chris Pronger for example.

But on the other end I don't know if Liles really meets criteria #1. He's not a boat anchor dead weight player like Mike Komisarek is, at least not yet. He doesn't have an NMC so he can be stuffed in the AHL if he gets bad (but it's more likely he'd retire instead of playing out the string).

Finally to put my Brian Burke cap on it's unlikely that Burke will buy out a guy he acquired personally and signed to a solid extension, especially after the Leafs jettisoned Luke Schenn in the offseason.

What do you think PPPers? Would you buy out Liles?