William Nylander and the Leafs will come to some form of agreement, and he will join the team. The only question is when that will be. There’s a theory going around that, because of the way RFA cap hits are calculated if they miss part of a season on re-signing, the Leafs want to delay his contract.

Cap Friendly did the calculation, and it shows the modest changes in cap consequences of Nylander’s eventual deal, depending on when he signs (I’m giving you the image, not the tweet, since this is easier to read):

There absolutely are some cap hit savings starting next season, when the Leafs expect things to be tight, of a few hundred thousand. Colour me unimpressed with this as a tactic. The Leafs just shaved $625,000 off their cap hit this season by swapping one overpaid seventh defender for Justin Holl. Don’t overpay your depth, and the few thousand you can nickle and dime out of a top line player becomes irrelevant. So far, barring that one mistake that has been corrected, the Leafs have very cheap depth.

Meanwhile, there is an actual problem caused by signing William Nylander late. The Leafs have lost the opportunity to waive one of those cheap depth players in the crowd of demotions on the last few days of training camp. They already lost both of their cheap, extra backup goalies. When Nylander does sign, someone has to go off the 23-man roster to make space for him. Unless the Leafs make a trade between now and then, they will be waiving one of their extras.

As of the first game played, the press box extras are: centre Frederik Gauthier (675,000 on a two-way deal), and the two defenders Martin Marincin (800,000 on a one-way deal) and Justin Holl (675,000 on a one-way deal).

Last year, Marincin was waived and sent to the Marlies after the season started, so it seems like he might clear again, but then, I though Calvin Pickard would clear, and look what happened there.

The trouble this season is that there are teams out there who set 22-man rosters, and who might be looking for a player to fill a spot on a very weak lineup. The Leafs are in a position of having press box extras better than some teams’ fourth lines or third pairs. The Leafs likely have players on the Marlies better than some who will put in 82 games this year on rebuilding franchises.

The Ottawa Senators are running a 22-man roster to open the season, and this is their defender corps, with the teams the players played on last year:

Seven (7) defencemen, 2017-18 team(s): Mark Borowiecki (Ottawa - NHL), Cody Ceci (Ottawa - NHL), Thomas Chabot (Belleville - AHL, Ottawa - NHL), Dylan DeMelo (San Jose - NHL), Ben Harpur (Belleville - AHL, Ottawa - NHL), Maxime Lajoie (Brampton - ECHL, Belleville - AHL) and Chris Wideman (Ottawa - NHL).

They have an ECHL defender on that list, and two players who were primarily AHLers. It’s hard to imagine they’d pass up Holl or Marincin, considering their low salaries, and in Marincin’s case, NHL experience.

Other teams with 22-man rosters who might be looking for some cheap depth are the Colorado Avalanche, the Detroit Red Wings and the Carolina Hurricanes. There will be other teams with waiver exempt players they might rather play in the AHL for big minutes who can quickly make a roster-clearing move to claim someone too.

The question becomes: Who do the Leafs risk? My guess is Marincin, since he’s fairly easily replaced with Calle Rosen or Andreas Borgman, although Marinicin’s PK experience helps his case. Gauthier would be my choice, but I can see the utility of having a press box centre for practices and who can play the basic faceoff and board battle game that Gauthier is capable of. Holl seems too useful to the organization as a right-shooter, and he seems to have been quickly replaced on the Marlies by Ryan Sproul, who signed a PTO with the team on Tuesday.

The other option is to decide that Josh Leivo can live long and prosper higher up some other team’s lineup than he can the Leafs. They could move him for the traditional low quality pick and be left with one centre, one left defender and one right defender, both of whom can PK. The need for an extra winger can be more easily supplied from the Marlies with Adam Cracknell, Josh Jooris, Trevor Moore or Dmytro Timashov depending on which type the team wants.

A long term choice for Gauthier over Leivo shaves another $250,000 off of this year’s cap too, making those bonuses for the players who actually play that much easier to pay out this season and keep next year’s cap situation in check.

What do you think? Who would you move out, and will they clear waivers?

Who would you waive for Nylander?

Josh Leivo308
Frederik Gauthier1364
Justin Holl105
Martin Marincin2416
Just trade someone1219