The Maple Leafs are in a rather unusual salary cap situation

DragLikePull
January 26 2017 10:53AM

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Photo Credit: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Toronto Maple Leafs generate an outsized portion of the NHL's revenues.  The Leafs' impact on revenue is so great, in 2012 the former head of English television for CBC said that the most recent Hockey Night in Canada contract would not be profitable for the public broadcaster if the Leafs did not make the playoffs.  Because of the Toronto's financial muscle, they've typically been near the top of the NHL in spending on salaries.  And if you look at a salary cap web site, you'll see that the team is currently within about $1M of the salary cap ceiling this season.

But that number is misleading.  While the Leafs are indeed paying out quite a bit of money for salaries, a significant portion of that money is going to players who are not currently playing for the team.  In fact, it's pretty unusual just how the team's salary cap situation is structured once you look into the details.

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The Mid-Season NationDraft

baggedmilk
January 26 2017 07:00AM

Make it Rain

With the second half of the NHL season well underway it's time to start preparing yourself for another round of trash talking, rivalry chirping, and, of course, a little bit of fantasy hockey. As per Nation Network tradition, I am here to tell you about a brand new NationDraft for the second half of the regular season.

Play against readers across the Nation Network in the 2016-17 Mid-Season Nation Drafts. Grand Prize is a $1000 Visa Gift Card! Enter your fantasy hockey team at nationdrafts.com for your chance to win and support a good cause! The entry fee is $20, with a portion of all proceeds going to support our charity partner, Earth Group.

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Quick Numbers: Jets performance in front of all three goalies

Garret Hohl
January 25 2017 03:16PM

The Winnipeg Jets have been rolling with the three-headed-monster setup for their goaltenders, having all three of Ondrej Pavelec, Michael Hutchinson, and Connor Hellebuyck.

The arguments some made for pulling up Pavelec included giving Hutchinson and Hellebuyck rest while trying to give the team time to recover their defensive game. Some believed the skaters morale fell and would bounce back with Pavelec, and even used the first two games as evidence of such.

What do the numbers suggest?

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The 3 biggest Calgary Flames worries

Pat Steinberg
January 25 2017 10:00AM

The Calgary Flames are officially in a slump. Following their 5-1 loss in Montreal on Tuesday night, the Flames have now lost four straight and eight of their last 11. With one more game before the All-Star Break and just four games between now and Feb. 13, Calgary is in a pretty pivotal part of their schedule. There's no question this team is struggling right now, but three things concern me more than anything else.

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Leafs are searching for a center, but true greatness comes from within

Ryan Hobart
January 25 2017 09:59AM

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Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Leafs are looking for a center to help their depth . From the same piece, Tomas Jurco and Martin Hanzal are on the block, but I doubt either of them are targets for the Leafs.

It doesn't seem there are a lot of center options for the Maple Leafs to pursue. There's a potential to call St. Louis about pending UFA Patrik Berglund, to see if he's available. Acquiring him would be overdoing it a bit, but he's a really good player for the Leafs to shore up the center position with.

Two things appear to be at work here: the Leafs are not quite satisfied with Gauthier so far, and Ben Smith may still be a ways away. But is it possible there's an internal solution to this problem?

Heading into this season, one of the questions I had about the construction of the Leafs' roster was about the 4th line center position. We knew Auston Matthews was coming and was announced as the 3rd line center. This meant the obvious choices for 1st and 2nd line were Bozak and Kadri. But who would play on the 4th?

Some hoped Peter Holland had a chance to stake a claim on that role, but Babcock and the Leafs decided he wasn't a good enough fit there. Most of Holland success the past season had come on the wing, where he was also played in pre-season, so a long-term role at center likely wasn't in Babcock's plans for Holland anyways. After a few games trying him there, the Leafs claimed former Leaf Ben Smith, who got locked into this 4th line center role from then until his unfortunate hand injury. 

From then forward, for the last 15 games, it's been Frederik Gauthier. The much-bemoaned former 1st round pick of the Maple Leafs, Gauthier had a ridiculous start to this season, statistically. His Corsi numbers were in the high 30's, and his goal-share numbers were in the high 70's. It was amazing to see, for better or worse. 

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