According to James Mirtle of The Athletic and Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the Toronto Maple Leafs have placed Nathan Horton, Joffrey Lupul, and Stephane Robidas on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR).
Johnston reports that the move happened quietly earlier this season. None of those three players are expected to play in the NHL again but account for $13.55MM in salary cap hits. Because the Maple Leafs have been close to the cap all year, they will receive approximately $13.39MM in extra cap space, according to Cap Friendly.
Despite gaining the extra cap space, Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello will still need to be cautious about any acquisitions. Placing a player (or three) on LTIR doesn’t remove them from the cap, it simply adds a commensurate amount on top of the cap ceiling for the team to spend. Technically speaking, the Maple Leafs will now be able to spend $86.39MM instead of $73MM. However, as Mirtle points out, this extra space cannot be used to cover rookie bonuses. Six young Maple Leafs currently have bonuses included in their contracts, accounting for an extra $5.75MM total. Seeing as the Maple Leafs only had $1.21MM in cap space at the start of the season, they’re going to be hit with carryover overages for the second straight year. Johnston suggests this encourages the Maple Leafs to “convert that LTIR room into something tangible.”
The Maple Leafs also have a $650K cap credit this season, after buying out Jared Cowen last summer.
Should the Maple Leafs lose the recently-injured Mitch Marner for a longer period of time, then the team could acquire a high end player (on an expiring contract) to replace him for the stretch drive.
Leafs should try and add a bunch of older players on big contracts and get some good prospects/picks for the cap relief