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Updated: Determining the Off-Season Cap Space of the Maple Leafs

By CapFriendly Jul. 8, 2017 at 2:26 p.m., edited Jul. 11, 2017 at 3:57 p.m.

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:

  1. All 1-way contracts (including players who are likely to play in the minors)
    • $69,037,500 (24)
  2. Performance Bonus Overages
    • $5,370,000
  3. Buyouts
    • $2,083,333 (3)
  4. Retained Salary Transactions
    • $1,200,000 (1)
  5. 2-way contracts calculated as the quotient of the total number of days the player spent at the NHL level in the previous season,  and the total number of days in the previous season
    1. Auston Matthews $925,000 (180 days at the NHL level last season/180 total days in the 2016-17 season)
    2. Mitch Marner $894,167 (180/180)
    3. William Nylander $894,167 (180/180)
    4. Nikita Soshnikov $645,185 (160/180)
    5. Frederik Gauthier $235,018 (49/180)
    6. Kasperi Kapanen $67,148 (14/180)
    7. Garret Sparks $11,250 (3/180)
  6. Players who have received a qualifying offer, with the cost of the qualifying offer calculated in the same method as the 2-way contracts above
    1. Connor Brown $715,000 (180/180)


Sum: $82,078,298


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:

  • The Leafs could trade a player to decrease their current salary cap hit. The trade would require a player with a cap hit listed in the "Off-Season Cap Space Calculation" section above. Trading a player on a 2-way contract who did not accrue any days in the NHL last season would not free up any cap space
  • The Leafs could wait until the first day of the season when players can be loaned to the minors to free up cap space
  • New: The Leafs can use LTIR as explained below


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