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The cap hit of the Leafs projected 23-man roster

It’s one thing to just pick out the players you want on your team, but do they fit under the cap?

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

Edited to add the actual opening day roster and cap hit:

The projected 23-man roster with no one claimed on waivers, no one else placed on waivers, and Nikita Soshnikov moved to the AHL as expected.

Name Position Age 2016-17
Nazem Kadri C 25 $4,500,000
James van Riemsdyk LW 27 $4,250,000
Tyler Bozak C 30 $4,200,000
Milan Michalek LW 31 $4,000,000
Leo Komarov C 29 $2,950,000
Matt Martin LW 27 $2,500,000
Peter Holland C 25 $1,300,000
Auston Matthews C 18 $925,000
Zach Hyman C 24 $900,000
William Nylander C 20 $894,166
Mitch Marner C 19 $894,166
Connor Brown RW 22 $686,666
Josh Leivo LW 23 $612,500
Morgan Rielly D 22 $5,000,000
Jake Gardiner D 25 $4,050,000
Roman Polak D 30 $2,250,000
Martin Marincin D 24 $1,250,000
Matt Hunwick D 31 $1,200,000
Nikita Zaitsev D 24 $925,000
Connor Carrick D 22 $750,000
Frank Corrado D 23 $600,000
Frederik Andersen G 26 $5,000,000
Jhonas Enroth G 28 $750,000
TOTAL $50,387,498

The total doesn’t even clear the floor. So in very real terms the Leafs are a team in the same league with the Arizona Coyotes for how much they are paying the players who actually play.

There is however, a chunk of dead money to add to that, including all the cap hits of players on IR, buyouts and retained salary. There is also buried salary for Colin Greening and Brooks Laich. Only some of their salary comes off of the cap if they are in the AHL.

Injured Reserve
Nathan Horton RW 31 $5,300,000
Stephane Robidas D 39 $3,000,000
Joffrey Lupul LW 32 $5,250,000
Tim Gleason $1,333,333
Mikhail Grabovski $0
Jared Cowen -$650,000
Retained: Phil Kessel $1,200,000
Overage $498,252
Buried $5,250,000 $6,948,252
TOTAL $21,181,585

Assuming Jared Cowen stays bought out and using General Fanager’s number on overage, the total cap hit of the roster plus all of that dead money is $71,569,083. That is $1,430,917 under the cap. That means the Leafs clear the cap without using LTIR on anyone, even Nathan Horton.

However, if they lose the grievance on the Cowen buyout, the total cap hit changes to $75,319,083, which is over the cap and LTIR or some other means would have to be employed to come into compliance. The grievance hearing is on October 19.

The other issue is bonuses. While under the cap by a small amount, that plus the 7.5% bonus cushion is enough to contain all the potential performance bonuses due that roster of players. (Edited to add: this is still true with the actual 23-man roster.) Teams are not allowed to go over their cap space plus that cushion in possible bonus payments at any time. If LTIR is used to get in compliance because the Cowen salary must come back on the cap, then that cushion is not quite enough and further steps would have to be taken at that time to be fully compliant with the salary cap.

Those are two bridges that can be crossed when October 19 comes, because if it becomes an issue, there are multiple ways to solve it.