The LTIR pool will permanently remain at $14,282,500 with all other players healthy. All three players that make up that number, Jake Muzzin, Matt Muray and John Klingberg have contracts set to expire this summer.
Most people recognized immediately that Klingberg's play was not NHL calibre long before the trip to Sweden which was reported to be very difficult for him.
And yet, his sub-NHL level play of last year didn't prevent the Leafs and Brad Treliving from signing him in the summer. It was always mitigation that the contract was only one year, but it still is an open question as to what anyone saw in this player, what medical records they had access to, and why they signed him immediately on July 1 if those records were not available.
All's well that ends well, is one way to look at it. Although it will only be all well if Klingberg has a successful personal recovery from this surgery and isn't living with pain. But why was he ever signed? The argument I made at the time, that the Leafs were choosing not to make a trade and the other defender options were no better, is true, but it's not a good reason, more an explanation of flawed reasoning.
At the end of the day Brad Treliving chose not to make a trade in the summer. Choosing not to act is still a choice, and the consequences of that choice are being felt now when he is trying to make a deal, and is competing with teams with the ability to make better deals with more assets and cap space.
Imagine the alternate reality where the defender trade happened in June, and then free agency rolled along.
If you've got time, use it. But make sure you really do have time and aren't just giving yourself an excuse not to act.