For all the ways the mighty Toronto Maple Leafs can flex their financial muscle in a league of varying franchise wealth, they too are staring at an immovable object: an $81.5-million salary cap that isn’t going anywhere for at least two seasons beyond this crazy one.
Upon the ratification of the NHL and its Players’ Association’s pandemic-salving collective bargaining agreement, GM Kyle Dubas will be forced to strangle his budget long after signing his four major offence-drivers — Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander — to gaudy, long-term contracts that he expected to look more palatable under normal cap inflation.
Heck, it was only a little more than four months ago that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly projected 2020-21’s cap ceiling could stretch as high as $88.2 million. With juicy gambling, Seattle and U.S. broadcast revenues on the horizon, the cap possibilities were infinity and beyond.
There is no use dwelling in alternate realities, however. Tight circumstances demand tough decisions.
Yet Dubas, holding court with reporters over Zoom on Sunday afternoon, doubled down on his commitment to his talented nucleus and suggested the real roster pain could be delayed until the 2021 off-season, when important pieces Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen will both coming knocking for raises.