Wednesday Morning Mashup: Squeeze

Wednesday Morning Mashup: Squeeze

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By my estimation, the Leafs have 10 forwards, 4 defencemen and 2 goaltenders (after dropping the expected Marlies-bound players from their capgeek page) signed with about $10.95 million in cap space available. RFAs Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson, Mark Fraser and Joe Colborne still left to sign.

We’ll see if Nonis can finesse the remaining RFAs in under the cap at better deals than he got on Bernier (who, after giving up assets for him in a trade, Nonis must have feared paying even more than 2.9 for through an offer sheet). If we were to be conservative and put Kadri and Franson at $3 million even, Gunnarsson at $2.5m, Joe Colborne and Mark Fraser at $925k apiece, the Leafs might be able to just fit it all under. But those are pretty conservative figures and leave little wiggle room as is, so Nonis may need to make a space-clearing measure (most obvious option being moving John Michael Liles, perhaps retaining a little salary in order to do it).

Interestingly, if the Leafs had let Bozak go and bought out Liles with the compliance buyout instead of Grabovski, they would have an extra 2.575 million in space with which to get these deals done. That said, while I’m of the opinion that Bozak over Grabo was a downgrade in the hockey talent department, it is too soon to say if the Leafs mismanaged the cap or saved on cap space by keeping Bozak and buying out Grabovski (as opposed to Liles). After the season he had, Grabovski didn’t seem tradable at $5.5 million and Liles may well be. Let’s see how it plays out.

A few links..

Don Cherry is not a Bozak fan
Worth thinking about: as Bozak came out of the NCAA, Don Cherry may think he’s one of those Americans Wilson and Burke brought in. But seriously, this is telling. Sidenote: I don’t think the Grabovski/Bozak thing should be pitted as a debate of advanced stats crunchers vs. traditional game watchers. I’ve always been an eyeballs-first kind of guy and there’s really no question Grabo is the better player. The other side of the argument (pro-Bozak) seems to mostly involve sentiments that Grabovski wasn’t a good fit here anymore, not meant for/happy in the checking line role, not a good match next to Kessel, and usurped by Kadri for the second scoring line center position… not that he wasn’t the more talented player.

Not Advanced Stats – Grabovski is still the better player
From Cam Charron.

Where does Joe Colborne fit now?
I say with the big club as a winger to start. Lots of patience for this player.

Blue Chip Prospects’ take on the Leafs Off-Season So Far

Jim Hughes interview from day one of Leafs prospect camp. See also: Morgan Rielly, Tyler Biggs, Andreas Johnson.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]