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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is Brian Burke Scheming to get Steven Stamkos for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Will Burke "max cap" Stamkos?
I saw an interesting note on Labour Day in Eklund's blog (the anonymous hockey blogger).  A very interesting NHL trade rumour site.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have interest in Patrick O'Sullivan. 

How can this be?  They already have their centres lined up with Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Nazim Kadri, and Christian Hanson.  They already have exceeded their cap limit.  Sure, they can manage it by sending Jeff Finger to the minors and exercising some bonus deferrals where some bonuses get applied to next year's cap.  Furthermore, they already have signed 50 players.  The NHL limits you to 50 players signed to a contract.

What is going on?  The 50 player limit can easily be addressed as demonstrated with the Matt Lashoff trade.  You simply find a team with a low budget and too many players on a one-way contract.  As in the Matt Lashoff trade, you trade two of your low-end prospects who have two-way contracts for the one-way contract player have an open spot on your 50 man roster.

So, you tell me, don't go off topic.  What is going on?  Excellent question.  I simply couldn't make sense of it.  So, I went to and played with the Leafs cap calculator.  Capgeek wanker!!!

Then it dawned on me.  If the Leafs can sign Patrick O'Sullivan for under $1.5 million, they can demote Tyler Bozak to the minors (he is on a two-way contract) with Jeff Finger in order to meet their cap space limit without using their bonus deferral.

So what?  They meet this year's cap limit without using their bonus deferral.  What is the big deal?

By itself, approximately $2.15 million, it is not a big deal.  However, in the summer of 2011, when you also remove J. S. Giguerre ($6 million), Tomas Kaberle ($4.25), and Patrick O'Sullivan (let's call it $1.4 million for arguments sake) from the cap sheet, you start getting close to being in a position to offer a player a "max cap" contract.  A contract which has a cap hit of 20% of the team's cap which will be at least $11.88 million.

So what?  Burke would be crazy to offer "max cap" to any of the existing players on the 50 man roster.

Yes indeed, you are right.  It would be crazy.  However, maybe he can offer "max cap" to a free agent.  Are there any free agents available in 2011 worth "max cap" contracts?

Now.....I think I have your attention....I can think of two.  Steve Stamkos and Drew Doughty.  They are RFAs in 2011.  Does Tampa Bay have the financial means to match a qualifying offer of $11.88 million?  Do the Leafs have the first round draft picks to give as compensation?  According, four first round draft picks is the required compensation for this type of RFA signing.  Maybe a commenter will be kind enough to correct me if this wrong. 

Tampa may have a problem meeting a max cap deal.  After the 2011 draft, the Leafs have the first round draft picks to offer an RFA a "max cap" contract.

Perhaps, just having the possibility of a "max cap" offer to Steve Stamkos can bring Tampa Bay to the negotiating table.  After all, they had interest in Luke Schenn.  Perhaps, a package can be made where it is three first round draft picks, Luke Schenn, and Tyler Bozak for Steve Stamkos.  This isn't a prediction, but, simply speculation.  After all, Briank Burke had a similar situation with Boston over Phil Kessell.

If this turns out to be the grand plan, it will certainly upstage the abhorrent "Tank Nation" and vindicate Brian Burke on the Phil Kessell trade.  By the way, John Tavares is an RFA in 2012 plus Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are RFAs in 2013.

Post Script 28-Nov-2010

Steven Stamkos - Restricted Free Agent - Snubbed by Yzerman - Again!

Post Script 23-Jan-2011

How Brian Burke Gets Steven Stamkos

Follow @Leafschatter 

Post Script 26-Oct-2010

Great article from James Mirtle on Leafs cap situation.

It expands on player bonuses.  In short, we should expect only $850k bonus payout each for Tyler Bozak and Luke Schenn.  Each of them are a cap hit of $1.725 mil.

Bonuses will total $1.87 mil.  As Mirtle concludes, Leafs have $3.96 mil in cap space before their $4.35 mil bonus cushion.

Also, bonus cushion is calculated on cap space after $1.4 mil carry-over bonus penalty has been deducted.  In other words, 7.5% of $58 mil instead of $59.4 mil.  This brings Toronto's bonus cushion to $4.35 mil.


  1. I had this exact conversation the other day. As much as I love Doughty, I think it's tough to justify more than a 7 million dollar cap hit for any defenseman - even one as talented as he is.

    Stamkos is a different kettle of fish. Is he worth five first rounders AND 20% of your team's cap? I don't know. It's a quick fix that's for sure. Depends on how confident Burke is that he can continue to attract ELCs from college and Europe I guess.

  2. I would go after Stamkos at that cost. Yes, it is a steep price. However, there are probably seven Stamkos type players active at any given time. My estimate, that level of player comes around once every two years. So, five first rounders isn't so bad.

    Plus, if the current team holding his contract believes losing him is inevitable, you can do a different package. For example, Schenn, Kadri, and three first rounders.

    To do this deal (max cap), you have to believe the player is the final piece and you can attract quality ELCs from college and Europe.

    The collapsing of the free agent market adds another dimension. Being able to sign Clarke MacArthur for $1.1 mil and Raffi Torres for $1 mil would enbolden me to go after a high end player.

    That being said, the Phil Kessell trade may not be so bad after all if another one can be done within the year. First line forward who was a top five pick (or talent equivalent of top five pick) who can be signed in the range of $5.5 to $6 mil.