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Posted on 07-11-17, 05:49 am

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By virtue of having a fairly young roster and what was previously a rebuilding attitude, the league’s richest team entered the summer with a huge amount of cap space to spend.

They were apparently determined to spend a good chunk of it. It’s difficult to understand why.

Next season the Maple Leafs will pay several guys not to play for them: Bought-out Jared Cowen and Tim Gleason (a little more than $2 million), salary-retained Phil Kessel ($1.2 million), LTIR’d-but-effectively-retired Nathan Horton and Joffrey Lupul ($10.55 million that gets buried when the season starts), which they can do because they’re the Maple Leafs and they print money. Most of those obligations — all but Kessel and Horton, a combined $6.5 million — comes off the books for 2018-19 anyway.

Also expiring: the contracts for James van Riemsdyk (whom they would be wise to re-sign), Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak,Authentic adidas Victor Hedman jersey, Dominic Moore and Ben Smith. They will also need to re-sign Willy Nylander,Authentic adidas Nikita Kucherov jersey, Martin Marincin, Eric Fehr (who will play in the AHL anyway),adidas James Van Riemsdyk jersey, Connor Carrick, and a few other RFAs.

And they still haven’t signed Connor Brown for this coming season but it is widely accepted that a trade will take place later in the offseason before they do so (maybe for Tyler Bozak,Authentic adidas Daniel Sedin jersey, but also maybe not).

Point is the Leafs now appear to be over the cap by a pretty significant margin, their offseason expenditures kind of boggle the mind. Just because you have money to spend doesn’t mean you absolutely, but for all intents and purposes that’s not actually the case. Nonetheless, positively have to spend it.

The $6.25 million AAV for three years to Patrick Marleau is defensible only insofar as the money doesn’t matter and you have to assume they’re going to find some way to cynically LTIR him, and if they’re basically spending $18.75 million for one or maybe two seasons of 37-year-old Patrick Marleau I’m not sure I get it, as they have plenty of other guys in the past. They don’t call it Robidas Island for no reason, but it’s not my money and the Leafs will make that back no problem regardless of the term of the investment.

Marleau is, not worth $6.25 million any more. His power play production is declining and while he had plenty of goals at even strength last season (20 of ’em), of course, I don’t care how good his linemates are, he’s gonna be in tough. We just don’t have the evidence that he can handle top competition anymore, and attaching him to, it was because the Sharks shuffled him down the lineup for much of the season. He only played a little more than 17 minutes a night and if the Leafs try to bump that up again, say, Auston Matthews’ wing will be an impediment.

We have plenty of evidence,adidas Victor Hedman jersey,adidas Nikita Kucherov jersey, however,Authentic adidas James Van Riemsdyk jersey,the Leafs’ coaches — don’t really care about this sort of thing. After all, that the Leafs — or more specifically,adidas Auston Matthews jersey, there’s no other way to explain why Zach Hyman played almost 90 percent of his 5-on-5 minutes with Matthews last season despite a clear inability to finish. You shouldn’t play nearly 1,000 minutes at full strength with a 40-goal scorer and come away with only 28 points in 82 games.

How’s this for a stat? Hyman had five points in his last 31 games of the season. Playing with Matthews and Nylander. Over the same stretch,adidas Daniel Sedin jersey, Nylander and Matthews had 26 each. That’s one of those things that seems like it would be almost impossible to do. It seems like it would be impossible for literally any NHLer to play 31 games with those two (especially when they’re scoring at a nearly 70-point pace) and come away with that few points.

Marleau, who even in decline still hit 46 points last season, will be an upgrade, but how much of one? It’s tough to say for sure but Matthews is likely to see his goal production drop at least somewhat because shooting 14-plus percent two seasons in a row isn’t easy and he already bombed in more than three shots a game, which is a hard number to improve upon.

So basically the Leafs are likely planning to slot a definitively middle-six forward onto their top line to move a definitively bottom-six forward off it. Which is an upgrade, but it’s not one you’d prefer to pay $6.25 million for in anything resembling an ideal scenario. Especially because they more recently gave that bottom-six forward $2.25 million of his own — not a big deal in and of itself — but for four years, which seems like it didn’t have to happen?Authentic adidas Auston Matthews jersey, .
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