Let me start today with a correction.
Last week I answered a question by saying that the Patrick Marleau’s contract could not be bought out since he signed it when he was over 35. That’s not true. It can be bought out, it’s just that the cap hit will remain with the team. So, kind of, there’s no point. But maybe there is.
Credit here to a faithful reader, Dave B, who patiently corrected me. I’ll let him explain.
“Hi Kevin. Thanks for answering my question last week about getting another team to buyout Marleau. I have a follow-up comment about it. In your answer, you said that Marleau’s contract can’t be bought out because it was signed when he was over the age of 35. According to capfriendly.com, a 35+ contract can be bought out, but the team receives no cap relief from the buyout. They would only save 1/3 of the salary remaining on the contract, with the rest payable over twice the length remaining.
In Marleau’s case, buying out his contract would result in the full $6.25M cap hit next year, and $416,667 owed in salary for each of the next two years. There may be a couple teams that could use a contract like that to help them reach the cap floor without actually spending a lot of cash (e.g. Ottawa or New Jersey). They would be doing themselves a favour, in addition to the Leafs.
Dave B’s idea – and I thought about it all weekend – requires Marleau’s buy-in, and is outside the box. The Leafs send Marleau and a prospect to a team that needs to get to the cap floor. That team buys out Marleau, turning him into an unrestricted free agent. For roughly $840,000 (over two years) the other team gets a $6.25 million cap hit this year and a top Leafs prospect. The Leafs get cap relief and then re-sign Marleau for, say, $1 million. Marleau gets more money than he would have otherwise.
Thanks for sticking with me Dave, I’ve come around to your way of thinking.
The question is who would the prospect be? If I’m the other team, I’d ask for Andreas Johnsson. Just remember, the Chicago Blackhawks traded Tuevo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to Carolina for a second- and third-round pick. The Hawks were in cap trouble. Teravainen was the sweetener for Carolina to take Bickell’s $4 million cap hit.
Read Ken Campbell on that trade back then before you get too excited about traded a prospect to unload a salary.
To the Mailbag
I asked for questions about GM Kyle Dubas and you guys responded. The good news here is I’ve come to believe that Dubas will read this. And he won’t be insulted. His nose won’t get out of joint. He’s built for the modern age of firebrand opinions and hot takes.
Tomorrow: The Mailbag will be all about Mike Babcock. Get your scowls on and email me at [email protected].
QUESTION: Hello Kevin. I hope you had a great weekend thinking about what you might get in you in box this Monday morning.
Well, if most fans feel as I do, there can’t be too much of an evaluation based on the amount of time Kyle has been on the job.
The guy has made some beginners mistakes, but that shouldn’t be a big negative on his resume, sure Nylander was an error, but I’m sure he will find a way to correct that issue.
Let’s see how he deals with his coaching situation.
Bruce from Brockville.
ANSWER: Certainly it’s too soon to cast judgment on what Kyle Dubas is a GM, but it’s not too soon to judge him on his season. There was good and bad this year. I believe he learned from his mistakes. The bigger question is what does he believe his mistakes were.
QUESTION: As for Dubas I think just maybe C- might be high . Not maybe ,will have salary cap problem … may not make playoffs next year. First, I am a Red Wings fan. Look at Babcock’s record ( 2 Olympic gold I could coach those teams ). Every team he started with he walk into a very talented one. When he left Detroit he knew it was the beginning of a rebuild. Hopefully when you grade him should be F , he had the team , I think that team should have gone further. Not a TML fan but if they trade Nazem Kadri tell them to send to DRW he is a second line centre.
Like for you to email me a copy of your reports .
ANSWER: I doubt the Leafs have any problem making the playoffs for the next little while, even with their salary cap problem next year. Their problem they have too many good players requiring salaries. That’s a good problem. As for you getting a copy of my reports, I’d like for you to subscribe.
QUESTION: Kevin, how do you rate Dubas’s first year as GM? I look at the number of 2018 Leafs who are in the second round of the playoffs – McElhinney, Polak, Bozak, Martin and Komarov. I look at the $10 million flop that Nylander has turned out to be. My ratings is a two out of 10.
ANSWER: A week ago I graded Dubas. Gave him a C. Click here to have a read.
QUESTION: Kevin. You’ve got it all wrong! It’s Dubas that should be on the hot seat. You could have had three Auston Matthews’ out there all the time, and it would not have changed the outcome. The Leafs are built as a soft regular season team and the rest of the league finally understood how to play them in the second half of this season. All you have to do is replay every other series in the first round in the play-offs, and every game since in the second round, to understand what it takes to win hockey games in the toughest tournament in sports.
We thunder plaudits out at Mitch Marner for blocking one shot in Game 1. Dozens of bodies are sacrificed and dozens of shots are blocked on a regular basis each and every game by each and every team. I haven’t even as yet mentioned core strength, winning the vast majority of 50/50 battles, finishing a check and simply rocking another player sending that most important message, that you are not contending on my shift.
It is arguable that most of the remaining teams actually have more talent in their top 3-6 players than the Leafs. When it comes to play-off hockey, Leaf talent is actually overrated. When you combine this with an absolute aversion to “rough” hockey, the presence or absence of Mike Babcock has absolutely no impact. This is a dubious Dubas issue.
Disappointed (as usual) Leaf fan.
ANSWER: Your point is well-taken. Winning 50-50 battles is incredibly important at playoff time. I think if you have a review of the seven games, the Leafs actually did a better job. What happened to the Leafs was a power shortage in scoring, and a total breakdown of special teams. Some might call it puck luck. It’s not like they went out in four straight, like Tampa.
QUESTION: Why did Dubas as GM not cash in on draft picks/prospects on the players they lost last year for nothing in return JVR, Bozak, Martin, Komarov, McElhinney and Polak except for JVR these high dedication, lower skill players are all in the second round of the playoffs. The high talent Leafs are not !! again !! what would the Leafs have gotten in return ?? a 1st a couple of 2nds & more .. they got ZERO.
Again.. They did not get through the first round last year .. they wasted two second round choices on Plekanec and Boyle .. got nothing for all those players that walked. Having stocked cupboards .. will auger well one day when it’s time to buy to succeed .. This year they will likely be losing Gardiner for nothing .. Time to smarten up .. don’t you think …. after 52 years if futility …??
As per Nylander if there are Cap issues .. he has to go for that coveted right hand shot defenceman … if Marleau cannot contribute he has to go as well.. You need to keep player with heart that want to win and will do what is needed to win .. Leaf’s do not do that .. They blew Game 6 a t home and I knew they would not be there for Game 7 In this playoff series Nylander reminded of a Swedish No. 11 of years past Inge Hammarstrom .. Put some eggs in Nylander’s pockets and lets see what he can do ?
I was 7 last time this Damn Leaf team won … other than in 1993 when the Gretzky call screwed them over .. there has been little to get excited about.
There are a few good questions in this. I gave Dubas a C minus before reading your story.
Regards Lou M … Blow Leafs Blow
ANSWER: Lot’s here. If you’re suggesting the Leafs should have traded all those players last year at the trade deadline and missed the playoffs, that’s one thing. Borderline insanity. But okay. Once the season is over and those players are headed for unrestricted free agency, there’s virtually no market for them. The Leafs got as much for Bozak, JVR et al as the Islanders got for John Tavares. That said, I do like your devotion to stocking the cupboard with draft picks. We’ll disagree on when it’s time to buy with that. For me the time is now.
QUESTION: Hi Kevin. The expansion draft for Seattle is just over two years away. The Leafs will therefore have to leave some players unprotected in 2021. Decisions that Kyle Dubas has already made, and will be making shortly, must surely in part have that expansion draft in mind. And yet, I am not seeing much discussion among hockey commentators on this matter. Am I wrong? Is it too early to be making roster decisions based on the looming 2021 expansion draft? Or will Dubas hold on to one or two players he might otherwise get rid of now with an eye on 2021?
ANSWER: The short answer, Trevor, is that it’s just to soon. Each team is only going to lose one player. They’re not going to engineer moves, maybe even handcuff themselves over the next two seasons to try to mitigate that loss. And consider this: The better the player you lose, the better the team you must have. That said, I think GMs will consider it a bit more when it comes to no movement clauses. But then of course, so will agents.
QUESTION: Kevin. I agree with most of your analysis on Dubas with one exception, and I also have a question. The exception is Nylander. A kid with two 60-point seasons playing on a line with Matthews is not worth anything near $7 million a year. A kid who is so obviously afraid to take or give a hit and would rather skate big circles should not be playing in the NHL, particularly on a team that does not have any muscle anyway. Dubas might want to build a high talent, high speed, finesse team, but looking at the way they got bounced around by the Bruins and now how the Bruins and Columbus are hitting each other, it is clear you don’t win in the playoffs without some physical players and without giving hits as well as taking them. Until the league goes for a 90 foot wide rink (a suggestion from another former Leaf GM, Brian Burke), there is not enough ice out there for wide circles and non-hitters.
For the Nylander deal, for saying he wouldn’t trade him and for the cap space mess he created, I give him a D grade.
My question is why is a 33 year old rookie GM deciding anything about Babcock and why is Shanahan letting him. Babs might be a little formulaic but he knows a heck of a lot more about hockey and player development than a 33 year old from a hockey family. The idea that Dubas would send us into the great unknown by firing Babcock is really scary.
Grant McGimpsey (a guy who remembers the last Cup in 67, and all of the heartache between then and now)
ANSWER: Dubas gets to decide because that’s the job he was hired to do. Simple as that.
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