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Salary cap mechanics for a Matt Murray trade

Time for a math lesson...no wait come back it’ll be okay!

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7
MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 08: General Manager Pierre Dorion of the Ottawa Senators looks on prior to Round Two of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 08, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Goalie market. Here is where things stand. The Edmonton Oilers are signing Jack Campbell to something like 5x5. The Washington Capitals, who did not qualify Ilya Samsonov, are signing Darcy Kuemper to probably something closer to 6. And the Toronto Maple Leafs are acquiring Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators. Most likely.

Things can always change, but for now, Murray is the best option the Leafs have. I know, I know, but it’s true. He’s not super old, he’s not inexperienced, he’s had success in the past, and he’s not super expensive. Wait, let’s go back to that expensive thing because I’m pretty sure Matt Murray’s cap hit is $6.25 million, with $7.5 million owed to him in each of the next two years (it’s actually $7 million and $8 million in salary across those two years but we’re going to average it out so we don’t get confused).

That cap hit is a problem, and it’s one of the presumed hangups currently going on with this progressing deal. The other is the Leafs are thoroughly evaluating Murray’s health to make sure there are no surprises for them.

Currently, there are two plausible trades surrounding the cash that can happen with Murray.

  1. Ottawa retains 50% of Murray’s cap hit and salary, and the Leafs get the other 50% of his contract.
  2. Ottawa retains only 25% of Murray’s cap hit and salary, a third team retains half of what’s left, and the Leafs get 37.5% of his contract (the Leafs and third team split 75% of Murray’s contract).

The Math for Option 1

I know math is a difficult and traumatizing subject for a lot of people. I should know, I am a new teacher and every time I tell people what I do they tell me they suck at math and hate it. Thanks, I always need to hear that. But we’re going to start simple and do the harder one later.

In the first deal, the Leafs and Senators equally split Murray’s cap hit and salary, as follows:

Ottawa at 50%: $3.125m cap hit, $3.75m salary (each season)

Toronto at 50%: $3.125m cap hit, $3.75m salary (each season)

Total: $6.25m cap hit, $7.5m salary (each season)

Easy! Now the hard part.

The Math for Option 2

The deal with Buffalo before Murray shut it down was the Sens retain only 25% of the full contract and Buffalo take the remaining 75%. This possibility was brought up from the Senators side of things because they don’t want a significant cap hit on their books for the summer after this one when they have Stutzle and Debrincats expiring.

The other possible explanation from Friedman’s 32 Thoughts podcast was Buffalo wanted more of the contract so they could get to the floor. It’s possible this second option is not necessary, but we’re going to keep going.

Taking on 75% of Murray’s contract is essentially what the Leafs would have to do, except the Leafs will want to split that 75% with a third team. Get out your calculator apps and plug in 75 divided by 2. That is 37.5. Meaning the Leafs and this mystery third team* would split 37.5% of Murray’s total contract.

This is what it looks like (I rounded a bit just to prevent any eyes from rolling):

Ottawa at 25%: $1.56m cap hit, $1.875m salary (each season)

Toronto at 37.5%: $2.34m cap hit, $2.81m salary (each season)

Arizona* at 37.5%: $2.34m cap hit, $2.81m salary (each season)

Total: $6.25m cap hit, $7.5m salary (each season)

*you can call the third team Arizona if you want for simplicity

The Difference

For the Senators, it’s half of $3.125m, so a savings of $1.56m in cap hit, slightly more in salary each season.

For the Leafs, it’s the difference between $3.125m and $2.34m, so about $785k. Not much for them at all. They’re not the one who wants the savings here.

Conclusion

Whether this trade happens with two teams or three does not matter to the Leafs. They get a lot less relief than the Senators. To me, that says the team that should be paying the Coyotes assets for taking on this contract is the Senators. Once again, I don’t think the Leafs should have to give up anything of value in this trade. Arguably, they should be getting assets with Murray because that’s what Ottawa agreed to with Buffalo before Murray’s NTC stopped it.

Poll

What did you take away from this lesson?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    The Leafs are getting Murray for 50%
    (169 votes)
  • 35%
    The Leafs are getting Murray for 37.5%
    (223 votes)
  • 11%
    I learned something!
    (72 votes)
  • 25%
    My brain hurts!
    (162 votes)
626 votes total Vote Now