It's been a while since I wrote about the Leafs roster, and the cap situation, so with the draft, trades and free agency looming, an executive summary is in order.
We've got some more information since that post was written. Namely the name of the GM, but also some credible intelligence that almost one on the UFA list is going to be re-signed, with the possible exception of Ryan O'Reilly or Luke Schenn (and the late-breaking news that maybe David Kämpf might be back too). But that's all that's new, so the numbers that describe the shape the players to be added haven't changed.
Offseason cap space is not whatever number you find on Cap Friendly. In the last few years, I've actually made a spreadsheet and calculated the correct offseason number because the Leafs were so tight to the cap, it actually mattered. They have so much open space right now, it's not going to be necessary, but if you want to give it a go, the process is more tedious than difficult. You add up all the contract amounts of players on one-way contracts, and then add in the two-way contracts and Qualifying Offer amounts for RFAs prorated by days on the NHL roster last season. Once you have that number you compare it to 110% of the coming season's cap ceiling, and that's the space.
What Cap Friendly does, and what I'm focusing on, is a projection for next season. In the interim, if Brad Treliving wants to add over the cap and then fix it later, he can – that's what the 10% offseason cushion is for. Another point to remember is that the Leafs can put Jake Muzzin on offseason LTIR if they need to. A cap-compliant roster of no more than 23 players isn't required until day one of the regular season.
Okay, enough about that, onto the numbers.
The Maple Leafs have seven forwards at $44,680,616, six defenders at $17,800,000 and two goalies at $5,454,167. That adds up to $67,934,783. To keep this simple, I'm not going to differentiate between Jake Muzzin on LTIR (which we all assume to be the case) vs his cap hit as "space". This isn't correct, but for this purpose it's good enough. That nets out to $15.5 million in space for 15 players.
Some of that space will get used by various players – Nick Robertson, Bobby McMann, Pontus Holmberg – who might make the team out of training camp. They all will have low cap hits, so we can consider them as a generic addition of three to four players at $2.5 to $3.5 million.
There is $12 million in space with 18 players.
The Leafs need to add at least three players to that, preferably more, since the 21-man roster dance means you have to be very correct about your player choices. That's the reason to avoid it more than issues of injuries or replacements – experience has taught us there are always ways out of those jams.
If you believe Matt Murray will be traded, then there is $16 million and change in cap space with 17 players with the need to add a goalie or two.
That seems like a lot of room, but as soon as you start filling out the top six and realize you don't actually have a third line, and then you see there are six defenders, but maybe not the six you want, and the goalies, and... well, it spends fast.
Once Brad Treliving starts, it will be gone in a hurry.