The Toronto Maple Leafs have been reeling recently and desperately need points. Although the team took three of a possible four points during this past weekend’s back-to-back games against the Anaheim Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens, that small success simply isn’t good enough to propel the team into a solid playoff position. The team needs a run of victories – each worth two points in the standings.
The Maple Leafs are hanging around the bottom line that separates playoff teams from non-playoff teams, but making the postseason playoffs is far from a given. That’s especially true because the team’s defense has been reeling from injuries.
Related: Maple Leafs Trade For Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford
What does general manager Kyle Dubas do? If the team needs help right now, can he get it? The recent trade for a new backup goalie (Jack Campbell) and more grit (Kyle Clifford) has over two games proved to be a solid move. However, I don’t expect the Maple Leafs will do anything quickly to reshape the team.
Is there a Salary-Cap Loophole the Maple Leafs Could Utilize?
Recently, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported a possible salary-cap “loophole” Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas might use to help his team prepare for the playoffs if defenseman Morgan Rielly isn’t able to return during the regular season.
In the past, the Chicago Blackhawks used Patrick Kane’s extended injury as a way to leverage the team’s salary-cap space and obtain more talent. However, I believe the only way the Maple Leafs would keep a healthy Rielly out of the lineup (and take advantage of this situation) would be if a playoff spot were assured, and right now that’s a tough call.
Because there’s no salary cap during the playoffs, should Rielly be unable to return to the team’s roster before the end of the regular season, the Maple Leafs could use money freed up by his injury status to fill a roster spot. Then, if he returned during the playoffs they could take advantage of both his availability and whatever new players the team might have obtained.
Currently, both Rielly and Cody Ceci are on the injured reserve. These injuries offer the team salary-cap space it could spend before the Feb. 24 trade deadline if that scenario works out. That said, using that loophole depends on Rielly’s injury status. If he can play, the team would suit him up in a second.
However, I could see the team holding out Ceci, who also represents a substantial salary-cap hit. Ceci, now a bottom-pairing defenseman, would be much easier to replace. That strategy might help Toronto, but it would likely upset the rest of the league. Is that a possibility?
This situation means that Dubas would likely wait until the last minute. The situation might provide some interesting “drama” around the team during the final days of the trade deadline, which will be upon us in two weeks.
Related: Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors After Two Straight Wins Since All-Star Break
Other Maple Leafs Trade Scenarios
On February 8, the site mynhltraderumors.com reported the interesting possibility of a trade between the Edmonton Oilers and the Maple Leafs that would send Oilers’ defenseman Adam Larsson and now-playing-in-Finland Jesse Puljujarvi to the Maple Leafs for recent-sleepy-head (and benched for a game) Kasperi Kapanen.
However, the site noted that such a trade might be more likely during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft than it would be as a trade deadline deal in the next couple of weeks. I think that trade makes sense immediately. Larsson is a solid defenseman who would fit well on the Maple Leafs defense and would make an impact. The Maple Leafs obviously would have to wait until next season for Puljujarvi, but such a trade makes sense as an immediate solution to both team’s issues.
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February 10, 2020 at 8:02 am
To Kyle Dubus please look at that trade Adam Larsen and Jesse Puljiuarvi for Kapanen and whoever Johsson Bracco draft picks please bring up Mason Marchment better leftwinger than what we have on Leafs please do something