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Thursday’s FTB: Leafs to sign some pretty big cheques today

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What does the difference in signing bonuses this year mean for the Leafs?

Toronto Maple Leafs fall to the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in game seven in the first round of the NHL play-offs
Toronto, ON- May 31 - Toronto Maple Leafs center Mitchell Marner (16), Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Jason Spezza (19) on the bench late in the game as the Toronto Maple Leafs fall to the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in game seven in the first round of the NHL play-offs at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. May 31, 2021.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

It’s July 1st, which usually means NHL Free Agency and lots of chaos around the NHL. John Tavares signed on this day, Phil Kessel was traded on this day, you know how it goes. But a big part of today, especially for the Leafs is the fact that signing bonuses will be sent out to all the players who have them as part of their contracts.

Here is the list of all the players with signing bonuses today:

  • Auston Matthews: $9,720,000
  • Mitch Marner: $9,608,000
  • John Tavares: $8,440,000
  • Jake Muzzin: $5,500,000
  • William Nylander: $3,500,000
  • Morgan Rielly: $2,000,000
  • Alex Kerfoot: $1,950,000

In total, that’s $40,718,000 in NHL salary handed out to those seven players. No, I’m not going to look into the tax, you can’t make me.

The cost of this is to MLSE, but I’m sure they can handle it. The benefit of signing big front-loaded contracts with big signing bonuses is that in the second halves of the deals, these players will be making significantly less than their cap hit suggests. To a lot of teams, including the Ottawa Senators — whom the Leafs have done deals like this before — it’s a plus.

For example, Mitch Marner will only cost the team he plays for $24.8 million over the next four seasons, that’s an average salary of $6.2 million. This also means the Leafs have paid Marner $40.608 million for his first two seasons of action with the team, but I digress. That salary should be intriguing to a lot of teams.

One unique advantage this weird season brings is the fact that the Stanley Cup Finals is still going on, so while signing bonuses have been paid, the Expansion Draft and NHL Draft haven’t happened yet. This means the Leafs can get in on the always fun draft day trades, whether that’s Alex Kerfoot’s $1.725 million yearly salary for the next two years, or even a big splash that includes Marner.

This is a unique year, and the Leafs would be loathe not to take advantage of their financial might.


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