It was a story throughout the entirety of 2013-14, dating back to the off-season buyouts and RFA negotiations, that the Toronto Maple Leafs were tight to the upper limit of the salary cap. While they weren’t the only team feeling the squeeze of a reduced cap, they couldn’t keep Joe Colborne around after preseason due to limited cap space and his waiver eligibility, David Clarkson’s early season suspension put the Leafs in a cap bind, the Leafs straddled the limit for much of the season sending players up and down to pinch their cap pennies, and late in the season Petter Granberg was flown down to Florida only for the Leafs to find out they didn’t have the cap space available to call him up.

Well, another bill arrived in the form of bonus overages: roughly $475,000 due to performance bonuses achieved by Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner.

Bonus overages explained courtesy of CapGeek:

[quote_box_center]When the bonus cushion is in affect, teams can exceed the salary cap in performance bonuses by up to 7.5 percent of the salary cap’s upper limit. Should performance bonuses actually earned at season’s end push them past the salary cap’s upper limit, the excess bonuses earned will be carried over as a penalty to the team’s cap payroll the following season.[/quote_box_center]


[quote_box_center]Bonus overage penalties are currently factored into our 2014-15 cap-space estimates for only three teams: Boston ($4.75M), Detroit ($3M) and New Jersey ($2.25M). This is due to the significance of the overages and CapGeek’s degree of confidence in their accuracy. No other team is expected to have an overage exceeding $1M, although it is possible. We will account for all overages once they have been finalized at the end of the month, after all bonuses have been handed out.

That being said, here are some rough guidelines. Teams expected to have a bonus overage of between $500,000 and $1 million or slightly more: Minnesota, Columbus, Anaheim and St. Louis. Teams expected to have a bonus overage between $300,000 and $500,000: Toronto and Philadelphia. Teams expected to have a bonus overage of less than $300,000, if any at all: Winnipeg, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Washington, Chicago. The following teams are not expected to have a bonus overage at all: Buffalo, Carolina, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Ottawa, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Vancouver.[/quote_box_center]

As of right now, factoring in the penalty, the Leafs have just under $22 million in space with 7 forwards, 4 defencemen and 1 goaltender under contract. As James Mirtle put it, putting aside last season’s cap issues, Toronto does have some options this summer as of today:

[quote_box_center]One difference between this year and last is Toronto can create some cap space to pull off meaningful moves. If the Leafs pass on Bolland and fill their fourth line with inexpensive but useful players from the minor-league Marlies, the team could have roughly $13-million (all figures U.S.) to commit to a solid centre, a top-four defenceman, two depth forwards and a backup goaltender.

If they buyout veteran defenceman Tim Gleason, who has two years remaining on his deal and struggled to earn his $4-million cap hit down the stretch, that would give them up to $16-million to spend.[/quote_box_center]

We’ve talked about it before, but that Gleason buyout is really something worth considering for the Leafs if there is a belief that a cheap contract off the farm like Petter Granberg ($800,000 in 2014-15) is ready to fill the role as a 6/7 guy.

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