If you're a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and you've been lamenting the losses of players like Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen this offseason... well... buckle up because the Leafs stand to leave even more impact players next offseason due to their cap situation.
In his latest column for The Toronto Sun, longtime Leafs reporter Michael Traikos reports that the Leafs will likely have to part with Ilya Mikheyev, Jack Campbell, Morgan Rielly and/or William Nylander next offseason.
From Traikos' column:
We all knew this day would come, when the salary cap forced the Toronto Maple Leafs into making hard roster decisions regarding some of their key players. This year, it was forward Zach Hyman and goalie Frederik Andersen who left as free agents. Next year, it could be defenceman Morgan Rielly who walks out the door. After that, who knows?
Maybe it’s Ilya Mikheyev or Jack Campbell. Or someone even more important, like William Nylander.
As things currently sit today the Leafs have exactly $0 in cap space. Like... they literally couldn't even sign a one day, $1 contract for a retiring player like the St. Louis Blues recently did with David Backes. The big problem, of course, is that $10+ million annual deals to John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The trio together make up nearly 45% of the team's total cap hit. Next offseason Leafs GM Kyle Dubas won't have any big ticket contracts coming off the big except for Rielly and his $5 million annual salary. The problem there, of course, is that Rielly is a valuable part of the team's defence corps and there's no doubt that the team would like to retain his services. But... at what cost? Certainly Rielly will be due for a raise on the $5 million annual salary he has collected for the past six years, but how much of a raise? Is he an $8 million defenseman? Dougie Hamilton recently received a $9 million deal for seven seasons on the open market as a free agent. If that's the type of raise the Rielly is seeking, I think the Leafs will have to pass on him and check out the bargain bin instead.