Just days after the Free Agent Frenzy, it appears dust is finally being settled. The league seems to be much more quiet, and rumours are at a stand still. As for Maple Leafs General Manager, Dave Nonis - his work is far from done.
The ink is still wet after 2 large contracts given to Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson, and our (once 2nd highest) cap space is tighter than most imagined.
With a budget of 10.3 million dollars, Nonis will need to sign 5 restricted free agents without exceeding the salary cap. On top of that, all five of those players will seek a pay raise - some more significant than others.
To lay out this situation a little more clear, here are some rough numbers.
Cap Space = 10.3 M
Kadri Contract - 3 M
Franson Contract - 3.5 M
Gunnarsson Contract - 3.5 M
Fraser Contract - 1.5 M
Colborne Contract - 1.0 M
Total Cap Space Remaining = -2.2 M
After these signings, which I feel are low-average offers, we would need to free up 2.2 million dollars. How do we do that? Simple!
Ok, well maybe it's not that easy, but my solution is to trade John-Michael Liles and his 3.875 million dollar contract. Keeping in mind that this is a player who watched from the press box on some nights, his value cannot be high. In fact, he likely holds little-to-no value as far as gathering a decent return via trade goes.
But this is a theory that isn't about finding a good asset in return. It's about finding the cap space to resign our own players, which should be priority #1 on the list for Dave Nonis.
With one player going to arbitration (Mark Fraser), we really cannot afford to have more players choose that route, and even worse, risk having another team offer sheet one of the aforementioned players.
To make matters worse, next year we have to deal with more free agents - some looking for a raise as well. Most notable; Phil Kessel, Jake Gardiner, James Reimer and Dion Phaneuf. Luckily, reports suggest the salary cap will be raised, which should cover the cost to resign these players.
So, is there a team that will welcome Liles with a price tag close to 4 million dollars over the next 3 years? Who knows. But the 32 year old, puck moving defenseman stands as a burden to our salary cap - more than a useful asset to the team.