Money Talks

I do realize that this is Maple Leaf overkill, however, I do want to paint as accurate a picture as possible on the status of the Maple Leafs as they stand right now. There are many rumours out there and even more suggestions here on HTR on what should be done and who should go. It is indeed interesting to hear some of the things bandied about however making a move is much easier said than done. And in reality, alot of what is being said is near dillusional. It was hard in the cap-less world to make moves, but beyond difficult now with a salary cap in place.

I dont like to be so critical but someone has to put things in perspective.

The Leafs have essentially backed themselves in a corner. To sign players with a lockout certain was ignorant. To not use the buyout clause post lockout was beyond ignorant. If they had the cap room available they would have probably addressed the McCabe absence immediately. Obviously their lack of depth did not help as they had little to nothing to offer. But their limited cap room completely tied their hands.

One can easily just say the Leafs can move this, that and the other player for whatever, paint a rosy future and clear essentially all their cap space, but it simply wouldnt make alot of financial sense for alot of teams. There are some players on Toronto that by the trade deadline would be affordable and have expiring contracts. Those are the players that teams would be interested in. Not the ones that have been mentioned recently in Leaf Nation.

Here is a list of all the Leaf players and their status for the balance of the season and beyond. I have listed their Salary to start the season, their salary due from now to the end of the year, and their salary due after March 9th which is the trade deadline. I have also listed their contract status beyond this year.

Mats Sundin

Salary: 6.8 million

Salary Owed: 2.9 million

Salary Owed post deadline: 1.75 million

Signed to: 2008

Sundin is still owed over $12 million and any team interested in acquiring will have to pay him top end money until he is 37 years old. I have to say that isnt an attractive position at all. How many prospects could Toronto get considering Sergei Fedorov with a similar contract and comparable talents was moved for Tyler Wright.

Ed Belfour

Salary: 4.5 million

Salary Owed: 1.95 million

Salary Owed post deadline: 1.17 million

Signed to: *2007 Team Option

Declining option will require a $1.5 million payout to Belfour which counts against the cap for 2007.

One would assume Belfour would be a decent goalie to acquire for the playoffs due to his strong playoff history(1 cup 3 finals appearances). But that $1.5 million he gets which counts against the cap that he would be owed if his option is declined is a major crutch. I think that alone makes him untradeable.

Bryan McCabe

Salary: 3.46 million

Salary Owed: 1.475 million

Salary Owed post deadline: 885K

Signed to: UFA

Tomas Kaberle

Salary: 2.28 million

Salary Owed: 973K

Salary Owed post deadline: 584K

Signed to: UFA

There is reason to move Kaberle or McCabe out. They are impending UFAs this summer. They have played very well and could fetch a decent return. But that means the Leafs chances of bringing them back are slim to none. and banking on perhaps 2 of the other 4 top blueliners (Lidstrom, Chara, Redden or Jovanovski) being Maple Leafs this summer is far fetched if anything. I think it would cost the Leafs more to acquire two of those players than keeping Kabby and McCabe combined and adding a couple of other Dmen. And it is a safe bet that all of those players will return to their current clubs (or the current clubs would be foolish not to re-sign them).

Ken Klee

Salary: 1.9 million

Salary Owed: 811K

Salary Owed post deadline: 487K

Signed to: UFA

Regardless of standings, the Leafs should consider moving Klee who would be a good rent-a-player for some team. They will probably get next to nothing in return, as they should considering he has been sub-par at best this year.

Darcy Tucker

Salary: 1.596 million

Salary Owed: 681K

Salary Owed post deadline: 408K

Signed to: 2007

If Toronto is looking to make a shock and awe move then this would be it. I would be shocked to see Tucker go but he is probably the Leafs most attractive asset considering his age, contract and what he brings as a player. But Tucker is the kind of player the Leafs need dearly. More players opponents hate to play against.

Eric Lindros

Salary: 1.55 million

Salary Owed: 661K

Salary Owed post deadline: 397K

Signed to: UFA

Based on past history, it wouldnt shock me at all if a) Lindros is out for the year or b) if traded, fails to report to his new team. that’s two reasons why it’s likely Lindros finishes the year as a Leaf.

Jason Allison

Salary: *1.5 million

Salary Owed: 640K

Salary Owed post deadline: 384K

Signed to: 2007 Team Option

*due to earn $222,222 every 5 games after playing 35 games until he reaches 70 games on the year.

*earned $444,444 in bonus money so far. in 2 games will earn another $222,222

*will earn $1 million bonus for playing 70 games.

*due to earn 666,666 in bonus money up to trade deadline and 1,333,332 for balance of season

The most likely player to be moved. The question is not only if but when. You see, because of how Allison’s bonuses are set up, teams are more likely to want to wait in order to pay out as little as possible. If he gets moved, that $1 million he gets for reaching the 70 game plateau will have to be paid by his new team (i could be wrong on this point). That could be a huge crutch for teams interested. And what return he could bring is another question. The points are there for Allison but is he really playing that well? I am not sure in the new CBA if teams can made a deal where they take some of the financial burden. The last deal of that kind was the Jagr to the Rangers trade where the Caps are still saddled with half of JJ’s contract.

Jeff O’Neill

Salary: 1.5 million

Salary Owed: 640K

Salary Owed post deadline: 384K

Signed to: 2007

He’d probably retire or take time off if he were moved and I think every one in the league knows that. So there wouldnt be any point talking about moving O’Neill.

Alex Khavanov

Salary: 1.25 million

Salary Owed: 533K

Salary Owed post deadline: 320K

Signed to: UFA

He has a decent chance to be moved to a contender. Getting a younger blueliner either within or elsewhere to pick up his minutes would be ideal. Alex wont get traded for very much however. 3rd line blueliners dont fetch a whole lot in return.

Tie Domi

Salary: 1.25 million

Salary Owed: 533K

Salary Owed post deadline: 320K

Signed to: 2007

Like O’Neill would probably retire than play elsewhere. Simply a bad move to bring him back and now the team will have to eat the rest of this year and next.

Aki Berg

Salary: 1.064 million

Salary Owed: 454K

Salary Owed post deadline: 272K

Signed to: UFA

Berg is an affordable depth player who could probably fetch a mid round pick at best. Forget aspirations about a defence prospect or a veteran upgrade.

Nik Antropov

Salary: 1.007 million

Salary Owed: 429K

Salary Owed post deadline: 258K

Signed to: RFA

Antropov is no longer a prospect. That needs to be made clear. He has had more than enough opportunities to be a decent NHLer. He was drafted 7 years ago. That’s long enough. Often injured, overpaid, inconsistent, soft, slow and undisciplined. Not much of a hockey player with those traits. There is little chance the Leafs can get something decent in return considering for example a guy like Huselius of the Flames a similar player who fell on hard times was traded for a journeyman blueliner. Also, the team who acquires Antropov has to qualify him for 1 million which also is unattractive.

Wade Belak

Salary: 665K

Salary Owed: 284K

Salary Owed post deadline: 170K

Signed to: 2007

Interest for a press box regular who makes close to 700K is limited at best. He is pretty much making the going rate for tough guys but signing him…..and Domi…..and Perrott….and Brown was a bit redundant.

Carlo Coliacovo

Salary: 859K

Salary Owed: 366K

Salary Owed post deadline: 220K

Signed to: RFA

Matt Stajan

Salary: 805K

Salary Owed: 344K

Salary Owed post deadline: 220K

Signed to: RFA

Alex Steen

Salary: 720K

Salary Owed: 307K

Salary Owed post deadline: 184K

Signed to: 2007

Kyle Wellwood

Salary: 627K

Salary Owed: 267K

Salary Owed post deadline: 160K

Signed to: RFA

Staffan Kronvall

Salary: 600K

Salary Owed: 256K

Salary Owed post deadline: 153K

Signed to: 2007

Mikael Tellqvist

Salary: 450K

Salary Owed: 192K

Salary Owed post deadline: 115K

Signed to: RFA

Alex Ponikarovsky

Salary: 450K

Salary Owed: 192K

Salary Owed post deadline: 115K

Signed to: 2007

These 7 are the team’s future for now and it would be a surprised if any of them are moved. I think the Leafs cant really afford to move any of these players to help them win now because they are simply much too thin in terms of quality young talent.

Mariusz Czerkawski

Salary: 500K

Salary Owed: 213K

Salary Owed post deadline: 128K

Signed to: UFA

Chad Kilger

Salary: 475K

Salary Owed: 203K

Salary Owed post deadline: 121K

Signed to: UFA

Clarke Wilm

Salary: 450K

Salary Owed: 192K

Salary Owed post deadline: 115K

Signed to: UFA

Kilger and Wilm could be had and help a team in terms of depth and in a checking role. Czerkawski will probably be waived. If the team could get a set of kitchenware and a candybar for them I would be happy.

As you can see, some Leafs may be attractive rent-players as their contractual obligations post trade deadline are minimal. However there are plenty of other players on the team that would be attractive from a hockey standpoint but will probably be avoided like the plague from a financial point of view. That will be the albatross that will prevent the Leafs from getting fair value from a hockey standpoint if they end up moving any of their top end players.

It is very hard to fathom one of their top end players (Sundin, McCabe, Kaberle, Tucker) being moved regardless of their status contractually. And it’s even harder to see any team with sound mind taking on Allison or Belfour based on what they are due later on. And basically the rest of their veteran players are junk and not worthy of any consideration. It’s the young players that other teams are interested and it would only be counter productive for the Leafs to move any of them.

So to say the Leafs need change or a move has to be made is easy to say but near impossible to do at this point. Especially when the team is in the middle of a long losing streak. Pretty much the best solution would be to ride the storm and keep on battling. The team is only a couple of points from a playoff spot. It’s not like they are too far behind now to catch up. 35 games is plenty of time to make up ground.

To put it in perspective, it’s all about money. The Leafs didnt manage it well and now are paying the price for it. This is why status quo may be the only option because there isnt much else they can do. if a team like this with injuries and little depth has zero players who can step up their play and contribute, what makes you think they have any worth around the league? and why would any team fork over money to said players? If the play of the Leafs is not enough confirmation for you as to how attractive these players are, just look at the numbers above, the numbers dont lie. It’s all about the money.


9 Responses to Money Talks

  1. DeathCab says:

    Very good article.

    Nice to know I’m not the only leaf fan out there who can think about their favourite team in a bit more realistic view, instead of the usual extreme optimists who call all other fans “not real fans”.

    Honestly, I was kind of hoping the leafs would do horrible this year, and we’d get a nice high draft pick for the first time in years. And mabey this time we’d avoid the next antropov and find ourselves a solid draft pick.

  2. koolcory77 says:

    Excellent article !!!!

  3. TML51 says:

    A voice of reason amongst the chaos….nice to see for a change.

    I do not expect the Laefs will make any moves, unless of course to hold a fire sale at the trade deadline. As they have few players under contract, I suspect they will eventually write the season off and start anew next season. It is foolish to think that they will make any huge moves. It is more than obvious that there is a slim chance of a playoff berth, and an even slimmer chance that they would make it past the first round.

    I’m a die hard fan, but this is NOT the year. My speculation is that they will stay status quo for the most part, and quietly finish the season and rebuild in the summer.

  4. 92-93 says:

    did you check out my 3-part, 9-step plan in the ‘Leetch coming to Toronto?’ thread???

    it sounds complicated but it isn’t really.

    i don’t think we can compare Fedorov’s situation with Sundin’s and i do think that the market for a top-line Centre who’s still a point-a-game player and still capable of being a #1 forward (contrary to the regular devaluations of non-leaf fans) could bring a whole lot more. there are may not be a lot of teams who have the cap space to acquire sundin but there are plenty that have the incentive (re: making room for him on their roster via trades).

    in any case, i don’t want to see sundin leave and it probably won’t happen because of the cap space.

    i’ve proposed elsewhere that it would be a mistake to make a trade near/during a losing streak because they need to battle this stretch as a team.

  5. Aetherial says:

    I doubt they could get value for Sundin that makes it worthwhile.

    I think they will eat the Belfour buyout next year. This is the guy I would MOST like to see gone, because of that contract… and he really is not all that sharp so far this year. I agree though that he is pretty much untradeable.

    They are stuck with Domi.

    O’Neill won’t report elsewhere, they are stuck with him.

    That leaves maybe two of Klee and Berg and Khavanov as likely to be gone. I doubt JFJ admits the Khavanov mistake so I am guessing Klee and Berg gone (or I am hoping).

    Allison may not be gone. If they can’t get anything good, they may just hold him until the end of the year and let him walk.

  6. 92-93 says:

    its too bad that nothing has happened with the Jamie Rivers RUMOUR that has been going around today. but i would like to see the leafs bring up Jay Harrison. i know i know – you don’t want to bring up a kid to a team that is struggling this bad and in the middle of a losing streak but what if this guy plays anywhere near the level he is playing with the marlies (one of their best if not their best D-guy) – certainly not that much worse then khavanov and berg.

    i agree about the unlikelihood of anything going down this season for the leafs concerning sundin and i too hope that the leafs will depart with ALL 3 of Klee (for something worthwhile this year before the deadline), Khavanov and Berg but is Khavanov signed for one year or two?

    also, yes O’Neill and Domi are stuck with the leafs which is really too bad.

    i dunno, i just don’t have the confidence in JFJ to make any smart moves. he brought in Klee – good move in the old nhl. he brought in Leetch – turned out to be a pretty good move but didn’t address their defensive shortcomings (and traded away some prospects too) which he tried to pin on Johannsen.

  7. Realistic says:

    Good article, but remember, there will be lots of space next year, especially if they don’t keep Eddie around. SUndin contract looks suspect in hindsight, but they had to lock him at the time – he’s the captain! Belfour signing was unbelievably stupid…I think JFJ is a twit….he looks so unconfident and nervous all the time!

  8. 92-93 says:

    actually according to http://www.homeoftheleafs.com/

    the leafs have Khavanov signed to a one-year deal.

  9. NHLSlayer says:

    Realistically (that seems to be the key word here) everyone is talking about the fact that the Leafs have backed themselves into a corner. At this point, not including Allison’s bonuses, as it’s all but certain he’s the first guy out the door, the Leafs have only spent $36 million. They still have $3 million to play with this season alone, and can afford to take a chunk of salary from a team looking to sell, as long as the players involved make sense. I still say that the deal you are most likely to see happen is Allison and Antropov to Boston for Raycroft and Boynton. It is the only deal being thrown around that makes any sense whatsoever for ANY team. The Leafs will not bring Belfour back next year, end of discussion. that gives them ANOTHER $3 million to play with, not including who they let go at the end of the year. Raycroft and Tellqvist make a better combination going forward than any other goaltending tandem. Boynton, when healthy, is a much better defenseman than Berg, Belak, Klee, or Khavanov. Antropov, he needs a new start somewhere else. Allison, don’t let the door hit ya ass on the way out. Allison has history in Boston, and wouldn’t mind going somewhere he can be comfortable.

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