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Could the Leafs trade or buy out John-Michael Liles?

Could the Leafs trade or buy out John-Michael Liles?

TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby noted the Maple Leafs only have $6.1 million in cap space for remaining RFAs Matt Mark Fraser (slated for an arbitration hearing today), Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson. Among management’s options could include trading Franson or John-Michael Liles, demoting players on contract of $1 million or less like Paul Ranger ($1 million) or Joe Colborne ($600K), or perform some “contractual voodoo” to get Kadri and Franson signed at favorable prices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams also cannot walk away from arbitration awards below $3.5 million this summer, so if Fraser actually got the $2 million he’s seeking, I believe the Maple Leafs could shop him, as I’ve seen nothing in the CBA which prevents players under an arbitration-awarded contract from being traded. If anyone has a link proving otherwise, please let me know.

As the Maple Leafs could go through arbitration with Fraser, they would be allowed to buy out a player in August once the arbitration period has ended, though it would be at two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining tenure, which would count against the Leafs cap. Compliance buyouts cannot be used during this period.

If they chose to buy out Liles, it would be quite affordable for the first two seasons ($875K per), but would jump significantly in 2015-16 (over $2.375 million) before settling to $1.25 million per season for the final three seasons. Of course, if the salary cap rises over this period, the deep-pocketed Leafs could afford it. For now, we await the outcome of Fraser’s contract, and see where Leafs management goes from there.

**UPDATE** Fraser has avoided arbitration with the Leafs, agreeing to a one-year, $1.275 million contract. That’ll give the Leafs less than $4.9 million to re-sign Kadri and Franson, unless they dump salary.

NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Thought Washington Capitals GM George McPhee has said he’ll move Brooks Laich to center his second line, Jason Brough wonders if McPhee might consider signing Mikhail Grabovski.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recently asked the same question. Grabovski would be more suitable than Laich as the Caps second-line center, but of course it’s up to McPhee to make that decision. While he’ll have the cap space, I suspect the Caps GM wants to avoid overpaying for free agent talent.

MLIVE.COM: Responding to readers questions, Ansar Khan says the additions of Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson won’t make Johan Franzen expendable, highly doubts Mikael Samuelsson will be dealt, and doesn’t believe Douglas Murray is on the Wings’ radar.