Updated: The section "What about LTIR?" Has been updated on July 11, 2017
With the Toronto Maple Leafs 2017-18 salary cap hit projection currently at $78,929,167, the club is projected to exceed the cap by $3,929,167. This has lead to a significant amount of interest in the Leafs salary position, which we have received through the form of emails, Facebook messages, and tweets. The most common question being: do the Leafs have enough space to sign their restricted free agent (RFA) Connor Brown? (The second being how much cap space do the Leafs have when LTIR is incorporated [which is explained by our LTIR FAQ])
On the surface the answer to this question appears to be simple: as long as the Brown's cap hit is below $3,929,167, there is cap space. Unfortunately, as with most specifics in the NHL collective bargaining agreement (CBA), it isn't that simple. During the off-season on CapFriendly, we position each teams roster to reflect what might occur on the opening day of the season. This projects what their cap space might be at the end of the season, and how much cap space the team would have on day 1 of the season. We do not display the teams off-season cap space, which has a separate method of calculation:
Off-Season Cap Space Calculation
It is well known that team's can exceed the salary cap by 10% during the off-season ($7.5M in 2017 for a total of $82.5M). What is less known, is how a team's off-season cap hit is calculated, which is explained in the CBA §50.5 (d) 1. (A).
In the Leafs case, the parameters break down as follows:
Current Off-Season Cap Space: $421,602
What does this mean? It means that as of currently the Leafs only have $421,602 remaining in cap space to sign additional players.
Can the Leafs sign Brown?
If the Leafs were to sign Brown, his qualifying offer cap hit cost ($715,000) would be removed from the off-season cap hit calculation above. Therefore, based on the Leafs current off-season cap space of $421,602, he would have to agree to a contract with an annual average of $1,136,602 ($421,602 + $715,000) or lower
What options exist?
A couple of options exist:
What about LTIR? (Updated)
As explained by James Mirtle, it has recently been revealed that LTIR can in fact be utilized in the off-season. Previously it was understood that this was not possible, and LTIR could only be used leading into the season on the final day of training camp. With this news, it is likely that Horton has already been placed on LTIR, allowing the Leafs to exceed the salary cap of $82.5M, and therefore they have enough space to sign RFA Connor Brown.
Why doesn't CapFriendly display off-season cap space?
We can assure you that off-season cap space is in our development plans, we hope to have those values displayed on the site for the 2018-19 off-season