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.

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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]
  • Burtonboy

    Morning Alec. Thanks for the mashup. No question a trade or buyout of JML is the only way the leafs can have a manageable roster this year. A buyout of Liles would leave us in good shape but a salary retained trade of 1 mil per would be even better. Hopefully we can just do a hockey trade and just be rid of the salary completely but that might be tough . Most teams are in worse shape then the Leafs. 
    http://www.capgeek.com/cap-calculator/roster/28462

    • B_Leaf

      Burtonboy 
      g’mornin BB
      I think people are really under estimating Fraser’s value and cap hit. I would be ecstatic if we could get him signed for $1M.  A team might offer sheet him…I would. He was arguably the best bottom pair defenseman in the league. His skating is vastly improved, and he bring a major physical factor. Hopefully his head is OK after that puck hit him.

      • Burtonboy

        B_Leaf Burtonboy You think he might not get beat out by some of our rookies ? There’s every possibility he can .

        • B_Leaf

          Burtonboy B_Leaf 
          The rookies won’t bring the grit and strength needed there

        • Burtonboy

          B_Leaf Burtonboy We will see. I’m not as big a Fraser as most . Ss the yr progressed and he got exposed to more minutes against better players his deficiencies become more pronounced. Would rather a more skilled faster player like Blacker or Granberg to get a chance

        • Burtonboy

          Yaknowwhat Burtonboy B_Leaf and it dropped off real fast when he played more minutes against better players. If you had Fraser playing 2 nd pair minutes all yr like he did in the second half I bet his plus minus would have been nowhere close to what it was

        • Burtonboy

          Yaknowwhat Burtonboy B_Leaf Because I would rather give a better player the opportunity the chance to play

        • Burtonboy

          Yaknowwhat Burtonboy Blacker ,Granberg ?

        • B_Leaf

          Burtonboy Yaknowwhat B_Leaf 
          I only saw Fraser struggle in the playoffs…and I think that was bad puck luck and an anomaly more than the norm. Had he stayed healthy I think he would have been huge in game seven when the Bruins were really throwing their weight around (illegally I might add).

        • Burtonboy

          B_Leaf Burtonboy Yaknowwhat I guess we saw different  things then. I saw a player who struggled the second half when his minutes increased.

        • Tommy Cat

          Burtonboy B_Leaf Yaknowwhat I saw a player who took a brutal shot to the head.  That makes you worry.

  • B_Leaf

    I may have been the biggest Grabovski fan here for four years running but I will admit that last year alone, Bozak was better. I’ve said this a hundred times before and I will say it again…Grabovski wasn’t right last year, maybe it was partly the coach, but more likely health, but it was not his role. Grabovski prior to last year was always extremely good in his own end. Grabovski himself asked Wilson for a bigger checking role and PK duty when Wilson was here so I really doubt the role had anything to do with it. 
    If Grabovski wasn’t going to get better than maybe Nonis made the right move, but if he gets back to playing at the top of his game it was a very bad mistake…time will tell on that one.
    But getting Bozak at what we got him at on its own merit was a good deal. Bozak doesn’t play the game for points, he plays for wins. Last I checked wins are what matter, and he proved to be one of the most irreplaceable players on this team. Carlyle used Bozak more than any other forward on this team for that very reason. He understands exactly what is needed at any given time in the game and puts a 100% towards that. He is not Jonathan Toews but he does model his game after him. 
    I am not overly impressed with our off season, I think we zigged when we should have zagged. But bringing back Bozak is probably the best decision Nonis made.
    Buying out Komi instead of Liles seems very short sighted to me. If we had of retained some of Komi’s salary I think he was more trade worthy with only one year left. Just sayin.

    • B_Leaf

      -Keon- 
      Good points. But with Komi’s deal only being one year I think Liles was the smarter compliance buy out. Komi could have stayed in the A or have had a normal buyout used.

    • Burtonboy

      Yaknowwhat -Keon- Then sign all the RFA’s tso we use up our reaming cap then let Fraser got to arb to drive us over and allow the buyout to kick in

  • Tommy Cat

    Tradiing Liles will be more than a little tough. He has a modified NTC where he can list 18 teams he won’t accept a trade to. You can be well assured that the sad sack teams with the cap space to take his 3 mil plus contract for the next 3 years will be on that list. Also to make it work for the Leafs they can have no roster players coming back, just picks prospects and the other GMs all know that. SO does the player still have trade value? Or will Nonis just give him away if any teams wants the contract as well as the player and they are on Liles accepted list?

    • Burtonboy

      Tommy Cat Lots teams with practically full rosters right now and plenty of cap space who could easily take on JML in a retained salary transaction.  If the Leafs retain 1 mil 2.8 is very manageable for lots of teams 
      http://www.capgeek.com/

      • Burtonboy

        Yaknowwhat Burtonboy Tommy Cat Maybe those teams feel the same way about Grabo as the Leafs did

      • Tommy Cat

        Burtonboy Yaknowwhat Tommy Cat I wouldn’t say they are all lined up for JML either.

      • Burtonboy

        Tommy Cat Burtonboy Yaknowwhat Who knows so theres always the buyout option which the Leafs could maneuver themselves into without much problem

      • Burtonboy

        Yaknowwhat Burtonboy He said he offered him to teams in a retained salary transaction in his presser

      • Burtonboy

        Have no Idea but it wouldn’t make sense to go much more then retaining a mil . The buyout was obviously his only option.

      • Cameron19

        Yaknowwhat Burtonboy Tommy Cat I don’t think there’s even a sliver of a chance that the Leafs offered to retain 50% of Grabovski’s contract – that completely eliminates any cap advantage for us in moving him.  Way too much.

    • Tommy Cat

      -Keon- Would it not be the same?  If it was any different as the years rolled would it not say?

      • Cameron19

        Tommy Cat -Keon- No, Capgeek doesn’t know what clauses are in contracts until they become media storylines.  I’m fairly certain his current NTC is much less restrictive than his last one.

      • Tommy Cat

        Cameron19 Tommy Cat -Keon- That just a guess or did you read it / hear it somewhere?

      • Cameron19

        Tommy Cat Cameron19 -Keon- I’m going off my gut from what was said around the time of the signings.  But typically, you can’t command the same level of security as you get older  I can’t imagine Burke gave him the same level of security he gave Grabovski, who he obviously deemed had higher value…

      • Tommy Cat

        Cameron19 Tommy Cat -Keon- From the agent / player prespective the NTC clause in the first year of two probably won’t make a big difference as the team just signed you and you would expect to keep you for a few.  But if I’m a player I would like the NTC to be stronger on the back end when the likelihood of having to use it greatly increases.

      • Cameron19

        Tommy Cat Cameron19 -Keon- Of course, but only the most elite players get those sorts of deals, and even then. Most players that have NTC’s see their effectiveness fall apart in the later years. 

        Plus, this is all a bit too technical – just ask yourself what type of guy Liles and why he wanted that clause in the first place?  To me he seems like an outstanding community member and veteran, and likely just has it so that should he have to move, his family gets a say about where to.  Lots of guys are like this – they say they just want to be part of the process.

      • Tommy Cat

        Cameron19 Tommy Cat -Keon- Very good point.  A guy like Liles would have deep community roots after a few years.

  • Dink

    I think you will find everyone gets signed and Liles stays too, rightfully so. He will be needed.

  • B_Leaf

    Colborne can play on the Marlies…but our key guys to get signed are Franson, Kadri, Gunnarsson, and Fraser. Still hard to see with Liles ridiculous contract.

  • B_Leaf

    Yaknowwhat 
    Good question. I dont really know if the MRI pictures floating around were really him, but if so he may need a little more time to heal….how long does it take a hole in your head to heal?

    • Bobsyouruncle

      B_Leaf Yaknowwhat If you don’t know the answer to that, who does?   : )

  • Tommy Cat

    Yaknowwhat Let’s hope.

  • B_Leaf

    Hope we get another Jim Hughes interview today…the guy is a bit of a rock star with the mic.
    If anyone goes down to watch the rookies I will guarantee you that one player will stand out to you….any guesses who?

    • Tommy Cat

      B_Leaf The obvious choice would be Rielly?

    • B_Leaf

      -Keon- 
      Which one?

      • B_Leaf

        -Keon- 
        But if you had to pick just one?

      • http://twitter.com/jmckelvie RielledUp

        -Keon- Flaake

      • B_Leaf

        -Keon- 
        LOL, I guess Rielly does stand out as well…and maybe it is expected so it doesn’t seem quite the same.
        But I will say this…Toninato jumps off the ice at me when I watch him. The one guy who stands out most to me is him.

    • Tommy Cat

      -Keon- Does Toninato play with a dead crow strapped to his helmet?

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks !

    • mcloki

      Morning MB

      • Mind Bomb

        mcloki Sup MC, you guys a little drier this morning in TO ?

        • mcloki

          A little. Surprising how much damage was caused. Lots of flooded basements.

        • Mind Bomb

          mcloki Stay dry bro ! I bet there are a lot of unhappy insurance adjusters !

  • Mike Bosse

    Just a thought here not even sure if it works, if I remember right a few sites this one included stated tha t Nonis had said at the draft and the acquisition of  Boland and before we got Clarkson that cap clearing measures were still to come, now Grabo and Komi are gone but we still need to move some $$$ around. We all know Colorado has said Stastny isn’t going anywhere, but if there’s one thing we as fans know the B.S. is piled higher just before a major deal……..now bear with me is it possible the Avs may have a deal in place only if the Leafs resign Bozak? Liles back to the Avs one of our better defense prospect from the Marlies and Bozak, from the Avs Stastny and a 2nd round pick, they have about 9.2M cap room we have 10M it may require a 3 way trade with (for arguments sake say the Oilers) who would take on Liles and send a young roster player to the Avs or is it possible we retain some of Liles salry like the story says that would be tough to do since Stastny is at 6M we may even have to do something like a 4 for 2 trade…..thoughts????  GOOD MORNING everyone!

    • Mike Bosse

      Sorry forgot in my rush to add this link of 3 teams who still need defensemen, and the Flyers are one but are hard against the cap.
      Three teams looking for defense
       http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/52763-Three-teams-looking-for-defense.html

      • Burtonboy

        Mike Bosse

        “Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/penguins/penguins-defensive-corps-crowded-after-rob-scuderis-signing-694589/ once restricted free agents Dustin Jeffrey, Robert Bortuzzo and Harry Zolnierczyk accept their qualifying offers or re-sign longer-term contracts.
        That’s prompted speculation defenseman Matt Niskanen ($2.3 million cap hit) is a candidate for a salary-dumping trade”.

        I could easily see the Av’s taking Liles in a retained salary transaction.  2.8 mil for Liles if we retain 1 mil

      • Cameron19

        Mike Bosse Our best chance to move Liles is with the Islanders and the Oilers.  Liles would actually serve a purpose with those teams, and both can easily afford him.

        • Mind Bomb

          Cameron19 Mike Bosse  I know they do not have a lot of Cap, but after watching Minny last year, they could use Liles as well, and it seems NJ is trying to compete with the Ryder and Clowe signings

        • Mike Bosse

          Cameron19 Mike Bosse I like the Isles idea but we would have to eat salary, isn’t that why they moved Streit???

        • Cameron19

          Mind Bomb Cameron19 Mike Bosse Think that NJ is trying to resign Zidlicky, though…Minnie just has no cap space to make that work.

    • Mind Bomb

      Mike Bosse  Morning Mike, Signing UFA’s and then trading them is not good business. I cant see Bozak being moved bro. Do it once and the only UFA’s that will sign with you will want an NMC,as they cant trust the GM not to trade them

      • Mike Bosse

        Mind Bomb Mike Bosse good points everyone, I know Liles is moveable and shipping him west to Oil country seams like a good Idea I doubt we’d get much in a deal like that unless we ship two out the Oil have state dthey would be willing to pay with a young roster player.

      • Mike Bosse

        Wouldn’t be any worse than Carter and Richards, maybe we hold off till into the season….but still the players know it’s a business, can’t be any worse than signing them for 5 years at high wage and buying out the last 4….yeah a little different in that the player gets rich but hey! Also why isn’t Grabo being heavily pursued ????? Or is he????

        • Mind Bomb

          There is nothing worse really than Philly trading carter and Richards lol 

          Idiots !

        • Mike Bosse

          Mind Bomb Yeah that was friggin rich, Homer lol he kills me!!! Then he follows giving Breeze a big contract, the reason he moved Carter and Richards (so he says) then after two seasons buys him out heheheh!  They lost assets big time over the course of just 2-3 deals. Which is good for us keep up the FAIR work Homer!

        • Mind Bomb

          Mike Bosse Mind Bomb  Its more like a Circus than a Fair :)