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Leafs flex financial muscle in one of few ways they can

Aug 25, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 24: David Booth #7 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 24, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. The Canucks defeated the Devils 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs are the richest team in the NHL, but despite that they’ve only made the playoffs once in the last nine seasons. Of course, that covers the salary cap era and it’s not coincidental that the Maple Leafs’ struggles have coincided with that change.

The salary cap has substantially diminished the potential on-ice impact of Toronto’s financial strength and the team has been unable to find any meaningful success without that edge. That’s something they’ve been working to remedy, but this summer they’ve also exercised one of the few advantages that their financial situation affords them.

While Toronto didn’t make any blockbuster signings this summer, they have handed out one-way contracts to forwards Daniel Winnik, David Booth, Mike Santorelli, and Petri Kontiola. That brings them up to 16 forwards signed to one-way deals, but nine of those contracts are worth $1.5 million annually or less. That’s important because while the new CBA made burying big contracts in the minors impractical, teams still have some leeway with smaller one-way deals.

More specifically, the first $925,000 of a player’s annual cap hit in 2014-15 won’t count against the ceiling while the person is in the minors, per Cap Geek. That’s allowed Toronto to gamble on promising, but risky players like Booth despite the fact that its only adding to a training camp logjam. Toronto is in a position to bury some of its one-way contracts in the minors to alleviate the cap burden, and that’s exactly what will happen unless trades or waiver claims alter the Leafs’ situation.

Other franchises might balk at employing a strategy that will likely lead to an inflated AHL payroll, but without the ability to significantly outspend teams the traditional way, this is one of the few advantages that the Leafs still have.

  1. djshnooks - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Being valuable in a big market, is a lot different than having financial muscles.

    The Buffalo Sabres are the 22nd most valuable NHL team according to that list…but I guarantee that Terry Pegula is not the 22nd richest owner in hockey…I wouldn’t even buy the 22nd richest owner in all of sports…he’s much wealthier.

    The Sabres could do the same thing as the Leafs did here…but they don’t want veterans with high salaries who have nothing to do with their future, taking up valuable ice time from the young prospects, down in AHL-Rochester.

    He’s also about to beat out that same exact ownership group for an NFL franchise…which is unarguably the most expensive sports league in the world, with the richest owners and most prestigious club of ownership that there is in sports.

    Take a seat, Toronto.

    (At least Josh Gorges knows the truth.)

    • withseidelinn - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:02 PM

      Maple Leafs Valuation: $1 billion USD
      Buffalo Sabres Valuation: $250 million USD.

      So yes, the Leafs have a little bit of higher budget.

  2. c9castine - Aug 25, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    lets get real they havent had much success since the league expanded in 1967.

    before then, there was hardly any competition and so of course you saw the same teams over and over again.

    last time they appeared in the finals? 1967…the lockout only exasperated their inadequacies.

  3. imleftcoast - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    The big story is that Tim Leiweke left Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment a few days ago. He had made a pretty big impact on the Leafs and Raptors.

  4. rainyday56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    Financially, the leafs are to pro hockey what Real Madrid is to soccer. Operationally the leafs are to hockey what the Browns are to football.

    • kaptaanamerica - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:09 AM

      Lols, not even the browns, some team that is the running joke of the league.

    • avscup - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      That is an insult to the Cleveland Browns organiiization!

  5. djshnooks - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Valuation and budget are different.

    Look it up…valuation is what the team would sell for due to the market it is in…budget is the same for all teams, as there is a salary cap in place for the NHL.

    Terry Pegula just sold land for $1.75 BILLION dollars in CASH!

    He bought Penn State a hockey team and arena, as well as a multi-million dollar ice-plex across from First Niagara Center.

    And he’s about to own the Bills.

    He is as rich as any owner in the NHL.

  6. Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 27, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    “budget is the same for all teams, as there is a salary cap in place for the NHL”
    No it isn’t. Not everyone spends upto the cap ceiling. There is a cap floor to go with it to keeps some teams from spending too little.

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