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.