With the Matt Murray trade finalized, and the Qualifying Offers made or not, the offseason cap space is clear. There’s a massive amount. In the offseason, which starts on Wednesday, the salary cap is bumped up by 10% to allow teams to go shopping and then fix their team structure later. The Leafs could go full on Vegas and sign Claude Giroux and then try to make that fit by October 11 when the official rosters are due. They won’t, but they could.
A plausible look at a projected roster for next year is what CapFriendly lists on their site throughout the offseason. It’s a projection, it is not the cap space. The Leafs may make any number of moves between now and October to structure the roster. At the moment CF only lists 17 players on their roster, so don’t quote the cap space listed there as gospel.
With the caveats done, here’s both the actual offseason space and a projection for next season:
Maple Leafs Cap Space July 12, 2022
|Name||Cap Hit (or Qualifying Offer)||Days in NHL If 2-way||Prorated Cap Hit||Projected Roster|
The offseason space is over $12 million, leaving all roads open this summer.
The projected roster I’ve used includes the RFAs, Pierre Engvall and Rasmus Sandin, at their Qualifying Offer amounts. Likely they will get raises. The roster is 20 players: two goalies, likely to be changed to a different, more expensive number two than Erik Källgren; seven defenders; 11 forwards. I’ve just used all the one-way contracts to make up the forward numbers, but some of those names will change, and cap hits might rise by a hundred thousand here or there. There’s $3.5 million to do all that with.
The Leafs need to choose at least 21 players that fit under the salary cap, and that leads, as always, to the decision on 12 forwards and seven defenders or 13 forwards and six defenders. There are zero waivers-exempt defenders on the roster above. There are zero waivers-exempt forwards, as well.
There are some potential forwards still exempt who can be sent down to allow another player to come up in the case of a short-term injury, and that might be what gets them an NHL job out of camp. Those decisions are well down the road, once the deals stop and the 50-man roster is set.
For now, there is also a lot of contract space, as the number 43 includes two players who will be in junior hockey and won’t count, as well as both the RFAs yet to be signed. There’s a lot of room for Kyle Dubas to sign AHLers to NHL deals in the coming days to rebuild his ranks of callups they will never use.
It doesn’t take long to use up all of the $3.5 million improving the forwards and signing RFAs. It’s very hard to imagine this team isn’t going to lose someone to fill all the needs, but who that is might well depend on who they sign in free agency, and if they want space to make a waiver claim in October when the goalies are free.
Until the next signing, that’s the numbers.