Rumor: Two Maple Leafs likely to be waived before the season begins.

Leafs roster could get trimmed down before the season.

HockeyFeed

Like many other teams around the National Hockey League the Toronto Maple Leafs are currently dealing with the very unfortunate reality of the flat cap era of the NHL. No doubt both Maple Leafs team president Brendan Shanahan and Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas believed they would have several millions more to work with in terms of salary cap space at this stage of their plan for the organization, but the reality is unfortunately much different.

On Monday Toronto Maple Leafs insider James Mirtle took a deep dive into the Maple Leafs roster and upon analyzing their current financial situation, as well as doing some guess work in terms of how he feels the roster will shape up come the start of the season. After looking things over he came to the conclusion that two Maple Leafs are likely to face a potential "cut" from the roster in order for the team to become cap compliant in time for the start of the 2021 - 2022 campaign.

So which two Leafs could become expendable prior to the start of the regular season? According to Mirtle the most likely candidates are forward Kurtis Gabriel and centerman Adam Brooks. That is somewhat unsurprising when you consider the sheer number of forwards that the Leafs currently have competing for a limited number of roster spots, a group that includes the likes of Nick Robertson and Josh Ho-Sang, both of whom are no doubt determined to earn their first real shot at the NHL level. 

Even though Gabriel is currently signed for the league minimum salary at $750,000 on a one year deal, the fact that at 28 years old he has become a known quantity makes him arguably the most expendable of the two. Gabriel did play in the NHL last season but he only spent 11 games with the San Jose Sharks, collecting no points in the process.

Brooks might get a bit more leeway than Gabriel, if only because he is a Maple Leafs product having been selected in the 4th round (92nd overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Leafs. He also only played 11 games in the NHL last season but in his case he collected 4 goals and an assist, a respectable 5 point performance over that stretch of play.

It is worth noting that a trade is always a possibility and could potentially allow the Leafs to avoid this scenario entirely. It has been rumored that forward Ilya Mikheyev has requested a trade, and clearing his $1,645,000 cap hit off the books would serve the same purpose as placing Brooks and Gabriel on waivers. That being said, I would suspect that the Leafs aren't particularly interested in moving Mikheyev at this time.