The Leafs need to free up some cap space badly; here are some trade potential candidates

Published July 21, 2023 at 8:36

With Ilya Samsonov's arbitration hearing set to take place at 9am this morning, the Leafs remain more than $8.8M over the salary cap and in need of a deal to move out some salary. As we well know, Matt Murray's name has been floating around out there as a potential buyout candidate, though the Leafs, I'm sure, would prefer to trade him to avoid any cap penalties.

While moving Murry and shifting Jake Muzzin over to LTIR would free up a significant amount of cap space, it still may not be enough to become cap compliant. With that in mind, there are a number of Leafs who could be moved to free up some additional space.

Conor Timmins was just signed to an extension by Kyle Dubas earlier this year and will carry a $1.1M cap hit for the next two seasons. Timmins is likely a little too good to pass through waivers, so even though his salary is a buriable amount, the Leafs likely won't place him on waivers for fear of losing him for nothing. He may not be worth a lot, but even a pick or a prospect is better than nothing.

T.J. Brodie's name has come up in recent weeks, with the Chatham, ON native being on the wrong side of 30 and carrying a $5M cap hit for 1 more season. As the team's number 1 option defensively, I'm sure the Leafs would rather not move him, unless it was for a player with a similar skill set who comes in with a much lower cap hit.

Calle Jarnkrok was signed last summer by then GM Kyle Dubas to a 4-year deal worth $2.1M per season. While Jarnkrok hit 20 goals last season for the first time in his NHL career, his $2.1M may not be worth keeping on the books if he doesn't factor into the team's plans in the top six. Jarnkrok's production dipped significantly last year when utilized in a bottom six role, so if there's no clear cut path for him to top six minutes, perhaps moving on is the best bet.

Sam Lafferty was a deadline acquisition last season and has one year remaining on his current deal, which carries a $1.15M cap hit. Lafferty has blazing speed and plays the game with a certain intensity and a no-quit attitude. The problem is that he is very likely a 4th liner on this team and with players like Bobby McMann knocking on the door and carrying a lower cap hit, it could make Lafferty expendable.

Last, but certainly not least, we have William Nylander, who is expecting to be paid in excess of $10M per season on his next deal. If the Leafs aren't prepared to come up from their offer, which starts with an 8, and if Nylander isn't willing to come down from his lofty ask, the two sides could be headed towards a split.

There are a number of ways for the Leafs to free up some cap space, but only a couple of ways to clear significant space. If Treliving is still looking to add to his blueline, moving Lafferty of Timmins may not be enough. In that event, we should look to one of Brodie, Jarnkrok or perhaps even Nylander to be on the move, along with Murray.
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