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State of the Leafs this July

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Development Camp, cap issues and trades.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Usually the latter part of July is the lazy part of summer where at most a team makes a late free agent signing, but otherwise has a development camp and then schedules vacation time.

That might be all that happens. The uncertainty around the Leafs, their roster, and who will be on this team in October might last until October. But for now, here’s an update on the state of things.

Development Camp

Development Camp started on Thursday last week and runs through to Wednesday. The format this year is brand new, and it’s groundbreaking.

The Leafs have invited a long list of prospects, not just draftees, but players they are looking at now or in the future for the Marlies or the Solar Bears.

They are running scrimmages with the invitees for now, getting an idea of who is hot and who is not:

Eventually, the draft picks will play against the hungry potential free agents. That means, the guys who have been playing against goalies at their level will suddenly see Joseph Woll or Ian Scott. Eventually those two new friends may face off against each other.

This is a great story on the two goalies.

You can catch up with the concept behind this camp here from Scott Pellerin, and get to know Timothy Liljegren and Eemeli Räsänen as well.

Every player interviewed gives the Leafs and this setup rave reviews. They were perhaps not expecting a list of coaching staff as amazing as what the Leafs have provided. It only begins with Sheldon Keefe, Leafs’ goalie coach Steve Briere, and Solar Bears coach Drake Berehowski.

This is my favourite interview so far. No one loves this game more than Keaton Middleton.

I liked him honestly admitting that being named captain made him nervous, but he just got stuck in and did the job.

You can watch the scrimmages this week if you get Leafs TV.

Once camp is done, the summer gets underway for everyone. Everyone except management that is.

The Cap Issue

The Leafs are maxed out right now. And no, they can’t just use LTIR. The issue is complex, but the end result of Matthew Gooding’s calculation, mine, and, eventually, CapFriendy’s is that the Leafs right now have just a titch over a million in cap space to use to sign Connor Brown. That won’t do it.

Added to that they will have 49 SPCs when they do sign him, so they aren’t adding anyone out of that development camp right away. They aren’t signing Jack Walker or Martins Dzierkals either right now. Not until the inevitable trade.

The Trade

There’s going to be one, at least one, and maybe two. No matter how many clever scenarios you might come up with to keep every player and play all the prospects at once, the roster is overloaded. Moves will happen, and at the bare minimum enough cap space will get made to sign Connor Brown.

But there’s a lot more to consider. Who is ready to make the jump to the Leafs from the prospect pool? Who needs a contract amongst the drafted? Traditionally, a pick as high as Liljegren gets an ELC reasonably soon.

To track the status of the draftees who aren’t signed and the players who do have NHL contracts, you can always refer to our pipeline chart and depth charts which we try to keep updated.

The Other Cap Issue

Once a trade is made and Connor Brown has a contract, everything can settle down until training camp. But once the season rolls around, the Leafs have a whole new set of cap issues related to their active roster, whoever that might be, and how much cap space they take up.

The Leafs signed a lot of free agents, some of them very expensive. Those contracts affect who can be fit in under the cap, how much LTIR has to be used, and ultimately, who is on this team come opening day. Get started on figuring that out here.

The Marlies

While the Leafs are busy loading up on players well over what they need, they also paid some attention to who the Marlies need. They will be a very different team this year, and some of the new players may make a huge impact. But there might not be many graduates off the team to the Leafs.

Last season the Leafs had a lot of rookies, most of them straight off the Marlies. This year, depending on how the trades work out, they might have none. Or just barely one if Kasperi Kapanen still qualifies.

It’s a new world now for Leafs fans. The days of seeing a lot of talent in the AHL ready to make the jump and a lot of roster spots for them to fill are over. Those days may be over forever.

The Solar Bears

With the Marlies still in the business of developing players, but not so desperate to fill a constantly fluctuating roster, it’s possible the Solar Bears might get some more attention and some more AHL signings to start their pro careers in Florida.

The Solar Bears don’t just have a few AHL players on the roster, they have their own guys too, and our man in Orlando will keep you up to date on what’s going on in the ECHL. If you don’t know Paul yet, please read his Solar Bears stories, and see just how much he loves his team.

The CWHL

While all that is going on in the world of men’s hockey, the CWHL moves forward with big plans, changes, new teams, old teams in new places and a big, splashy deal with China for a new team.

You can keep up with all the CWHL news here at PPP each week in Women’s Hockey Wednesday, and with more coverage as the season opens.


So that’s where we are with the Leafs and with the world of hockey, waiting for moves, waiting for rookie camp in September and waiting to know who will even be on these teams come October.