The Toronto Maple Leafs may have finished dead last in 2015-16, but things are looking up for the boys in blue. The Leafs drafted Auston Matthews—the consensus number one pick—and have a slew of young talent waiting in the wings. The team addressed their goaltending woes by trading for pending RFA Frederik Andersen and immediately signing him to a 5 year, $25MM extension.
Cap Space: $3,765,834 (via CapFriendly). This number is smaller than the actual cap space the Leafs will have on opening night because it does not include Jared Cowen’s impending buyout and Nathan Horton and Stephane Robidas’ LTIR placements—the latter of which comes into effect on opening night.
Key UFAs: F P.A. Parenteau
Parenteau finished second in team scoring last year with 20G and 21A, and led the team in power play goals with 7. The Leafs valued Parenteau enough to avoid trading him at the deadline for draft picks, which speaks volumes for a rebuilding team. The Quebecois right winger was bought out by Montreal before last season, and signed a $1.5MM one-year deal with the Leafs. Given his recent production, Parenteau would be looking for a raise and a longer-term contract.
Holland finished the season with 9G and 18A in 65 games with the Leafs, similar to his production last season. The Leafs expected Holland to be a prototypical power-forward center in the mould of Getzlaf or Lindros, but the RFA has not delivered so far. With Auston Matthews, Tyler Bozak, and Nazem Kadri all slated to play center next year, Holland may be the odd man out. Sparks earned some time with the big club last year in place of injured starters, and amassed a 6-9 record with a .893 SV% and 3.02 GAA. Those are not stellar numbers, but the rookie goalie showed signs of promise by posting a shutout in one of his early games. It is unclear whether the Leafs issue qualifying offers to either RFA, and as of writing have not done so. The team has until June 27th at 5pm.
The Leafs are rumored to be a big player in the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes but they’ll have to move some salary to make cap room. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier is the obvious candidate now that Andersen is the presumptive starter. Bernier makes $4.5MM a year and is on the final year of his contract. If the Leafs don’t move him they will start the season with $9.5MM tied up in goaltending. Once they place Horton and Robidas on LTIR and buy out Cowen, they should have enough space to make a serious play for the top free agent target this offseason.