GRAPHIC: Leafs Salary Cap Situation

It’s the middle summer, hockey news is getting harder to find, and the Leafs are a Bernier signing away from maxing out their contract limit (this is also why Marner won’t be signed until Cody Donaghey has been sent back to junior). This seems like as good a time as any to revisit the Leafs salary cap situation and using and borrowing the idea of salary cap visualization from Habs Eyes On The Prize that’s what we’ll briefly do.


The first thing that should leap out at everyone is the amount of open cap space the Leafs have left despite only having the Bernier contract to fit into this mix. The relief from the Horton deal and available space account for 18% of the total salary cap, and even if Bernier was signed for an identical amount as Horton, there would be 11% of the cap available (almost $7M).

Secondly, the Leafs have a lot of contracts expiring at the end of the season, and this is obviously by design. There are 13 players who will either be re-signed, traded, or simply cut loose, so we’ll be seeing another radically different Leafs team next year, although it’s safe to say Rielly, Kadri, and Marincin will likely still be part of the team beyond this season.

The Leafs currently have 5% of the salary cap tied up in dead cap space. This is the retained salary on Kessel and Gunnarsson, and the Gleason buyout. If you want to look at it in a much uglier way you can say that including Horton 12% of the Leafs current salary cap is going towards players who won’t play a game for them.

The salaries, that go beyond this season make up 49% of the Leafs salary cap, not including the dead cap space and Horton’s contract. The disappointing aspect of that is those contracts include Phaneuf, Lupul, Robidas, Komarov and Bozak. On the plus side, they include Gardiner, van Riemsdyk, Winnik, and Hunwick. Phaneuf’s contract makes up 10% of the Leafs salary cap on its own. That’s never a fun thing to think about and it’s also not fun to think about 38% of the Leafs current cap allotment is to players on deals that expire when the player is in their 30s. Only Parenteau, Winnik, and Hunwick were signed to those deals by the current front office.

While the visualization shows the disappointing large slices of the pie committed to Lupul, Bozak, Phaneuf, Robidas, Komarov, and dead cap space, I still generally feel optimistic about this. The amount of space available, and the increased amount of turnover that could occur is a great step forward for the organization. If it’s in anyway possible to improve the Leafs situation through moving one of the larger contracts, that’s gravy, but it’s also far from an immediate necessity. 

An argument can be made that best return of investment on some of those less fortunate deals is to see how they’ll play out under a new coach. It seems entirely possible that Phaneuf and Lupul improve this year and the rest aren’t so significant that we can’t suffer through a few more years of them.

  • SEER

    Yep.., Agreed.., Jon..!

    The first thing I noticed last week, was how much we have already improved the roster.. and how much we still have left.., but.. of course the Cap went up for this season…

    Still.. THANK YOU, NEW MANAGEMENT..!! : )


    SIDENOTE: Catching up with a few more Legends…, in the past week..
    I did one for Mats last week.. and here’s the newest from today…



  • Gary Empey

    I’m optimistic about the cap space. A lot of 1 year contracts, plus you have to expect that Lupal or Bozak will be out by Trade Deadline.

    Also hopefully Komarov is back for training camp and we get some solid value out of his play.

  • Gary Empey

    True it is the middle of summer. I do wonder how why there has been no news all week about the prospect training camp since day two.

    I suppose the media couldn’t afford hotel and gas to Collingwood.

  • Gary Empey

    That great graphic makes Komarov’s contract looks obscene. Sadly we don’t have Clarkson’s contract coupled with ECHL level of play to make Komarov’s boat anchor look bad.

    This is another crazy Nonis contract signing.

  • BEDay

    An Open Question – Feel free to add whatever knowledge you have!

    The Question: Has a player ever been approached by management and asked to ‘retire’ from the team as a player in exchange for the same money and term as an executive?

    Example: Leafs approach Robidas and say “Hey man, if you’ll retire and end your contract with the team we’ll give you the same money and term to join the staff as a player consultant or something similar,”

    First, I guess the question would be is this legal? I’m not sure how it wouldn’t be. Second, does anyone know if this has ever happened? Finally, what are the ramifications for the player and team that I am likely overlooking?

    Thanks in Advance!


    • Gary Empey

      There used to be player-coaches. I think it is possible. It would have to be something both parties were agreeable to. There are a lot of players in management after their hockey careers.

  • V


    I’m not sure on your actual question. However, this has been discussed a few times: Even if Robidas retires, he’s still on the cap for the next two years. This would be because of his +35 contract signing.

    So hypothetically, you would just be gaining a roster spot. It would be valuable, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having Robidas being our 5,6,7 th D for the next two years to help keep the prospects in the Ahl and help Rielly, Gardiner.

    Also, there’s nothing saying he wouldn’t work out in a Babcock system. Yes, he’s older and has lost a step, but seeing as his contract will be up before this team is truly competitive, it would be best in my opinion to have him on the ice.

    • BEDay

      First, thanks for the input.

      I’ll try to make the question a little easier to understand if i can…

      It would amount to, i guess, a way of creating another buy out for the team. I’m not knocking on Robidas, he was just the best example I could think of.

      So, Leafs approach player A, and basically pay him to retire. They do this by allowing him to make the same money for the same term, but it’s in a management, advisory capacity rather than as a player.

      I didn’t realize that the 35+ part of the equation existed, so the point with Robidas is moot. However, apply the same strategy to player A without the restrictions. This being, as I said previously, a way to create a pseudo-buyout situation for the team.

      I hope that makes more sense.

      • V

        Im not sure if it could be done like that exactly. I haven’t studied the CBA enough to be the one to answer. However, from a players perspective, it would be very difficult to find one that would agree to such a thing.

        First off, it would have to be a player that is close enough to retirement that it’s worth it for them to stop playing the game they love.

        Other than the +35 contracts, players who retire (other than from injury, ex: pronger), I’m pretty sure their cap hit comes off completely.

        It would have to be a player that knows he wouldn’t be able to earn another hockey contract.

        So can it be done, I think so. The other notion would also be that other hockey teams wouldn’t feel like paying a low level management position millions of dollars. The leafs could afford it without thinking twice.

        If your thinking a team( who isn’t the leafs) would be willing to pay (let’s take robidas contract as an example even if he doesn’t really count) three million dollars for a low management or coach position, it wouldn’t exactly be worth it. The oilers are paying Todd McClellan what, like 3.75 million? Would you have robidas as assistant for 3 million? Even if it would hypothetically be a half buyout?

        I like your thinking outside the box tho.

        • BEDay


          Yeah, you’re exactly right in your synopsis of what it would take…a willing player and the Maple Leafs money.

          I never believed that the Leafs need to make any such move, because they are sitting pretty well in cap space and contracts, at least in my opinion.

          The idea just came about when I was thinking of the Horton situation and other ways that roster spots or cap money could be manipulated.

          Thanks for the excellent input!

          • V

            My pleasure.

            If we could manipulate the cap, the leafs would be the ones to do it. If I’m not mistaking, they have one of the guys who wrote it in a management position.
            If you look at the moves they made, they flip flopped Leivo and Percy early in the year on off days to save a few 100k on the cap.

          • IceDesert

            I was following this thread last night, and I thought “Huh, I think I’ve heard someone else talking about that today…” But I’m a geek, and I had read (and listened to about four podcasts) about four different teams yesterday, so I couldn’t remember.

            Then, I remembered that it was in relation to a rumor that had been circulating about Dan Cleary and Ken Holland in Detroit, and headed over to Winging it in Motown. It turns out that they (or rather, JJ from Kansas) did an entire write-up about how this exact situation could not happen.

            You can find the article here:

            (Also, this is my first time posting here, so I’m hoping that things are A: formatted okay, and B: I didn’t accidentally break any rules.)

          • BEDay


            Nice addition man. Thanks for the heads up and welcome to the board!

            My next question is, does that make me comparable, as a hockey mind, to Ken Holland? LOL