Nylander all business during a breakout 2023-24 season
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The salary cap outlook in Toronto with Nylander's new deal not nearly as bad as some suggest

Published January 8, 2024 at 10:47
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

With the Toronto Maple Leafs and star forward William Nylander reportedly reaching an accord on an 8-year contract extension worth $11.5M per season, many Leaf fans, while excited, are also concerned about how the Leafs will navigate the cap next season.

Captain John Tavares will be in the final year of his 7-year deal that will see him earn $11M, Auston Matthews' expensive 4-year extension kicks in, which will see him earn $13.25M per season, and Mitch Marner will also be entering the final year of his 6-year contract that will pay him $10.9M. That's $35.15M for three players and when you add in the reported AAV of Nylander's new deal, that jumps up to a whopping $46.65M. That number is $2.9M more than 50% of next year's projected $87.5M salary cap.

There are a number of Leaf fans that believe the Leafs are screwed next season with Nylander getting $11.5M per season, but that is not necessarily the case. As of right now, the Leafs have 13 players under contract for next season and have approximately $32.5M in cap space.

The two biggest free agents the Leafs will likely try to re-sign are Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi. Bertuzzi is currently on a 1-year deal worth $5.5M while Domi is on a 1-year deal that is paying him $3M. Using Evolving Hockey's contract projections tool for last season (this year's projection table is not available yet), Bertuzzi was projected at $5.793M, with a bit of a pay raise, and to keep numbers simple let's use a $5.75M AAV. For Domi, the projection had him much higher than his current salary at $4.791M. Personally, I don't think Domi will get that much even if he hits the free agent market so let's say his raise goes up to $3.25M. That's another $9M off the books leaving $23.5M in cap space. Take out Nylander's $11.5M and you are now down to $12M to fill out a minimum 2 forward spots, 1 goalie spot and 3 blueline spots. 6 roster spots at $2M apiece covers that, though the Leafs are likely to have a couple of league minimum deals in there to allow them to spend a little more on the remaining slots.


With the remaining cap space, the Leafs would be able to bring back RFAs Noah Gregor, Nick Robertson and Simon Benoit on cheap deals as well as re-sign Timothy Liljegren to a reasonable short-term deal. The space would also allow them to bolster their blueline with additions of players like Chris Tanev and Sean Walker while moving on from Ilya Samsonov and having Martin Jones serve as Joseph Woll's full-time back up next season.

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As you can see, there is no Ryan Reaves on this roster, but given how much better the fourth line has been without him, he will serve his purpose when needed against tougher teams like Boston and/or Florida. With this roster, I have also assigned Conor Timmins, William Lagesson and Bobby McMann to the minors, thougy the Leafs can likely move all 3 for other assets, be it picks or depth players. Additionally, there are only 20 skaters as the Leafs do not have enough room to carry extras.

Should the Leafs decide they want to keep Bertuzzi over Domi, or the other way around, the Leafs will have plenty of room to carry a maximum roster and the same can be said if they decide to move on from David Kampf. For those that think the Leafs are "screwed" with Nylander's new deal, the Leafs have plenty of options to work around it.

POLL
January 8   |   1242 answers
The salary cap outlook in Toronto with Nylander's new deal not nearly as bad as some suggest

Should the Leafs bring back Bertuzzi and Domi next season?

Yes to Bert, no to Domi26121 %
Yes to Domi, no to Bert20416.4 %
Yes to both60448.6 %
No to both17313.9 %
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