Cody Franson’s re-signing will force the Toronto Maple Leafs to shed some salary, while the Florida Panthers signing of Tim Thomas creates a possible logjam in their crease.
ESPN.COM/TORONTO SUN/TORONTO STAR/THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signing defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year, $2 million contract pushes their payroll to slightly over the $64.3 million salary cap ($64.816, according to CapGeek), forcing the club to shed salary to be under the cap when the season opens on October 1. Most observers suggest veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles could be the likely candidate moved via trade or waivers. If he’s demoted, however, the Leafs will only get $925K in cap savings, as the remainder of his salary would still count against their cap.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun claims the Leafs would love to trade Liles but his salary ($3.875 million per season) hampers that possibility unless they’re willing to absorb part of his salary or add another player in the deal. LeBrun mentions the rebuilding Calgary Flames as a possible trade destination, based on their cap space and the fact former Leafs GM Brian Burke – who acquired Liles from Colorado and signed him to his current contract – is now the Flames president of hockey operations. However, LeBrun believes the Flames would want a young player (like Joe Colborne, whose name has been mentioned of late in trade rumors) as part of the return.
The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran suggests the possibility of another player getting dealt, suggesting Carl Gunnarson, Jake Gardiner and Nikolai Kulemin “might want to get used to trade rumours.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs move Liles, it’ll likely be via demotion, as the cap savings would be just enough to put them under the cap ceiling. It won’t leave much wiggle room for anything else, which could keep GM Dave Nonis busy trying to find ways to stay cap compliant. I don’t believe Gunnarson or Gardiner will be moved. Kulemin could be a trade possibility but it appears the Leafs intend to start the season with him. We won’t have to wait long to find out what Nonis has in store, as the Leafs must be cap compliant by Monday.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: James O’Brien reports the Florida Panthers signing of Tim Thomas to a one year contract creates a logjam in their crease for the upcoming season. The Panthers already had Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen under contracts for this season. GM Dale Tallon claims he hasn’t thought about demoting Clemmensen, who scurrently rehabbing a knee injury, which should give Tallon a bit of time to reach a decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markstrom is waiver exempt so demoting him seems the obvious choice when Clemmensen has recovered from his knee injury, but it’s believed the Panthers signed Thomas in part to tutor Markstrom. If so, that leave Clemmensen as the odd man out.