NHL Morning Rumor Mill – Tuesday, July 30, 2013.

The latest on the Maple Leafs, Capitals and Red Wings.

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.


  1. If Fraser gets anything more than $1.5M a year in the arbitration hearing, look for T.O. to move him out. There is no reason that a #5 or #6 D-man should be making that much, and let’s face it, that is exactly what he is.
    I think buying out Liles would be a mistake, he still has value, and that value will just increase once Nonis re-signs or trades away Franson (hopefully it won’t be the latter).
    I’m sure he’s tried to shop Liles, but other GM’s probably want Franson instead knowing the situation, once he becomes unavailable, Liles will be more attractive.
    As I’ve mentioned before, best target team to deal Liles to might by NYI to fill in where Streit left off.

    • no team in the NHL would ever trade for Fraser at $2M, unless the Leafs agree to share the cap hit.

      • I never said $2M I said $1.5M, but it’s a moot point. He signed on for 1 year @ $1.275M

    • Per Sportsnet Fan 590, Mark Fraser have agreed on a 1 year deal for $1.275 Million.

      • Hmm 25 grand more then I thought but….

      • $200K more than what I would’ve given him, but at least it’s only for 1 year

    • I’m pretty confident that there would be a team or 2 who would take Liles off waivers at the very least, tho Im not so sure what all the hype is keeping Franson if he gets anywhere near 4 mill (which he is seeking) for a contract after 1 very short season. Especially now seeing what Bagosian got in his deal (just over a 5 mill cap hit), its ridiculous to give him any more then 3-3.25. I know he may develop some more in to a very good D man but if it got to the point where there were a number of teams bidding for him and could provide us with a potential top line center or another potential top 6 winger where our prospect pool is significantly lacking It might make sense to move him anyway. Franson is still very unproven, and again looked inconsistent at points last year. We have other strong d prospects.

      • If you had to pick between Franson and Liles, who would you rather keep? If they had the same salary I mean ($3M+)

        • That’s even a question. lol

          • what’s so funny? lol …

        • Not so much who Id want to keep more of who would get me the best return so Id keep Liles play him with Fraser but truthfully I may get rid of both…. Dion and Gunnar first pair Granburg or Blacker with Gardiner and Ranger Fraser Brennan as the 7th

          • assuming Reilly/Percy don’t make it…. which may be a safe assumption w/ Percy, but expect Reilly to push for a spot.

          • Wow that’s one solid defense.
            Weren’t you the guy complaining the Leafs defense had major holes and they needed to get a solid D man now you want to replace Franson with an AHL guy who has never played a game in the show.
            Weren’t you the guy that hates Gunnar and think he’s crap but now you have him slotted on the top pairing.
            Weren’t you the guy that says Dion never had a good D partner and that’s why he doesn’t play well now you have him slotted with Gunnar and guy you say is crap?
            Weren’t you the guy that was going on and on about Lile’s pedigree and great past performances and now you want to move him and replace him with another AHL guy?

          • Btw Im just ignoring bg and his nonsense from here on out…accept this last point recently I said 1.25 and it dosent make it to arbitration he said he would give him 1.6-1.8 and would laugh if the arbitrator (actually used the word judge which is wrong its not small claims court) gave him 2mill……actual retail price…1.275 just like the price is right bg is a loser

          • Funny how you ignore me when I call you out and you change the subject to a non topic. You my friend are a real piece of work.
            You were off on Fraser by $250k an I was off by $550k but as you will see below my estimated total for Gunnar $2.5, Fraser $1.8 and Bernier $3M come to $7.3M and the actual signing amounts for these three… yes wait for it… is $7.3M (3.15+2.9+1.25M). WOW pretty close eh?

          • Who cant add? 1 million 275 thousand minus 1 million 250 thousand equals 25 thousand not 250 thousand but yes you were off by 550k… Man Im trying to ignore you its just your so wrong with so many things… Really kind of funny

          • You wish bro. You said under $1M. Actually at one point you wanted to pay him the qualifying amount. As usual you ignore the many points you are way off about and focus on one point which you try and jam down everyone throat. You are brutal…

            That’s ok now you can focus on how you think Gunnar is under rated and under paid and how he just doesn’t have a good D partner. You can be his new cheer leader.

          • Shticky says:
            July 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

            Not so much who Id want to keep more of who would get me the best return
            Wait, what? Obviously your top producers SHOULD net you the best assets in any trade, but that fact doesn’t merit trading the better player simply because they’ll get you a better return.

            You may think Bogosian got overpaid on his deal, but neither you or Nonis can ignore him as a comparable player as a reference for Franson’s arbitration case now.

            Bogosian’s line: 297 GP, 34G, 69A, 103P, -42 +/-, AAV: $5.14MM
            Franson’s line: 243 GP, 23G, 77A, 100P, +28 +/-, AAV: $???

            If it came down to it, I’d move Liles (even at a small loss) to make room under the cap for Franson to stay. Trading Franson for picks and/or prospects doesn’t help the Leafs with their push to improve on last year’s results. With Liles’ salary, age, size (or lack thereof), “meh” production and now concussion history, the return you get for him may not be great, but the impact that Franson can have in the upcoming season and beyond will almost undoubtedly be immeasurably better. There’s a reason that Franson would garner a decent return in a trade and it’s that he can help a team compete NOW, which is Dave Nonis’ current goal.

          • Here here. I think Nonis would way rather keep Franson if he can. Again just bad financial planning knowing what these guys would be asking based on their seasons.

          • Please tell me you are not using +/- to compare a d man who plays firstline minutes over most of his career to Franson who at best played second line minutes for half of a shortened season I think Bagosian deal is good not an over payment. I also believe he does not play as soft a game as Cody Franson plus he averages 24 minutes a game over his career before the last 10-15 games Franson never played more then 18 no they are not comparable in positive ways at all for Franson…I like him Im not just trying to get rid of him but if you look at what we have Gardiner Reilly will be very good in the next couple years as PMD this year we have 4PMDs 5 if you count Dion we dont need that many and we dont need to tie up spots down the road by jumping all over this guy and overpaying him the first decent year he has particularly in a shortened season. Im not so sure this all has to be about the now as you say they just extended dave for 5 years to build this team. You are fooling your self if you think that Franson makes us a cup contender after 48 games of playing full time thats another piece left out of your comparable line there Bagosian is 3 years younger then Franson with more games played he is a lot better player then Franson, Franson for a million dollars less then Bagosian is a bad contract.

          • A) No, I didn’t use just +/-. If I were attempting to tip the scales THAT much in Franson’s favour, I would have ONLY posted the +/- numbers. I was trying to paint a general picture, numbers-wise, of both players across the board (without getting into the advanced stats which casual fans can’t wrap their heads around yet)
            B) Nowhere did I say Franson is a superior player to Bogosian, I was merely trying to make the point that he MUST be included as a comparable contract or reference point for Franson’s arbitration case. (IE, if Bogosian is worth $5.14M AAV, Franson is worth $X due to a lack of consistent track record, depth of opponent, etc etc. NOT: Since Bogosian makes $5M, so should Franson)
            C) I get it, you’re not Franson’s biggest fan. Granted, there are still areas where he can improve, but he is 25 years old, entering the prime years of his career and has the size and possesses a skillset that is highly valued in the NHL. To trade that away for some $0 assets simply because you think he’s being overvalued when the cap will most certainly go up is a complete folly.

            I believe that the best course of action for both sides would be a reasonable 2-year bridge deal that takes Franson to the door of UFA. If at that point, the team feels he’s worth, for argument’s sake, $5M a year, then they can negotiate from that number with the full knowledge of what Franson’s value could be on the open market.

            D) Nonis may have a shiny new 5-year contract, but his intention is to make a serious run for the Cup within the next 3 seasons. That plan only gets adjusted if Phaneuf and/or Kessel find new teams after the 2013-14 season.

            Now, I’m not a Leaf fan, I don’t have a dog in this fight and I have no personal vendetta against anyone here. That said, you Schticky, must learn not to distort someone’s message and try to stuff it back in their face. (Like the +/- thing above) Whether you agree with someone or not, you still must respect their opinion and their right to state it.

    • can’t argue w/ shticky there… but does’nt the fact that Franson plays less minutes means he’s capbable of doing the same with less available to him? Doesn’t that put a brighter spotlight on Franson?

      • That’s certainly a plausible thought. I don’t think it necessarily warrants a massive pay-out comparable to a bona fide 1st pairing defenseman, but it is definitely worth mentioning.
        The only negating factor is that Franson’s 2nd half numbers after being elevated in the depth chart (due to Gunnarsson’s injury) dropped off a bit as he adjusted to playing more minutes against more skilled opponents (and covering up for Dion’s numerous defensive foibles). That kind of a decline in production should almost be a certainty in that kind of situation however, so it’s intriguing to think of exactly how much weight it carries with Nonis & co.

        • Srry TH meant no back in your face kind of sentiment there, and thats the funny thing I m a fan of Franson I think he may turn in to a great 3-4 guy but that would be the extent of it he plays a fast soft puck moving game great shot from the point but that is where his game will peak and we have 3guys who are capable of doing that for us know and 2 who will probably imo do a better job of it in the very near future (his defensive game is just about nonexistent) so if you cant move Liles with out taking away fom your team by adding picks holding salary etc, why not deal something that you have in abundance for domething of need, Again particularly if you have teams lining up in the bidding. Most those the people sayin that he is an integral part and worth what he wants will be the first ones screaming bad contract when we sign him for an absurd amount and start playing him on the second pair and all those shiney numbers he put up againdt 3rd and fourth lines dont come around, and his defencive play is exposed by better competition similar to the last half of the season and the playoffs.

      • It could also mean he plays for a coach that plays a match up game so when 3 and 4 lines are on the ice (lines that dont score) he is playing with Kadri and Kessel and lines that score lots, as well as playing pp time. If you look at the last half of the 48 game season his numbers trend down with his promotion to the second pairing.

    • It’s Mark Fraser, not Matt. The leafs already used their 2 buyouts. I don’t think you can just buyout whoever you want. Trade liles for a bag of pucks if they have to so they can sign Kadri & Franson.

      • My apologies for the name error, it’s been corrected. As for buyouts, there is a 48-hour window beginning 3 days after the arbitration case is resolved (via arbiter or if the player is re-signed before the hearing) for a team to buy out any player they chose (other than the one who filed for arbitration). The only exceptions is you cannot buy out a player acquired at the previous trade deadline, and the bought-out player cannot have a salary below $2.75 million. So, for example, if they decided to buy out Liles (I’m not saying they will, just using him as an example), they can do it during that 48-hour window.

  2. I read in an interview done at MapleLeafsHotstove with Dave Poulin that a buyout period opens up after an arbitration ruling:

    “Yeah, there is a buyout window, I believe it’s after the final arbitration date. There is an arbitration window that opens up, but it’s not a compliance window. For instance, if you were to get hit with an arbitration settlement that doesn’t fit into your numbers, you do have the right to exercise a buyout of whomever you would chose to on your team at that point. Not the player that you signed, or that you get the arbitration hearing on, it’s anybody else on the team that can be bought out.”

    Never specified the $3.5-million figure but I know which CBA chapter you’re referring to.

  3. Isn’t it Oates, not McPhee, who actually gets to decide where the players play?

    …though I suppose McPhee’s unwillingness to get Oates a second line centre may dictate that decision in the end.

    • that’s my thoughts as well. it would be a mistake for McPhee to dictate where players play.

    • It SHOULD be Oates and not McPhee, but the only constant elements through Washington’s collapses over the last decade or so have been Ted Leonsis & George McPhee. One could surmise that the duo’s “hands on” approach has been one of the factors leading to the team’s inability to get back to the Cup Finals.

  4. If the Leafs were actually considering buying out Liles don’t you think they would have used the compliance buyout on him instead of on Komi. Liles has 3 years left and Komi only had 1 year left. That would make no sense compliance buying out Komi and doing a regular buyout on Liles it would have been the other way around.

    • BG I remember thinking they were a little quick to buy out Komi with just 1 year left too. Just in case you got in a cap crunch you needed to remove a larger contract for such this situation.

      I think they bought out Komi as a favour.

  5. $4.9M left minus any wiggle room ($500k to $1M) needed for injuries to sign Franson and Kadri. Should be interesting…

  6. Hey Top Right FYI Where we shaving off $3.5M from Franson and Kadri? lol

    BeerGoggles says:
    July 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    Hey TopRight
    3 signings down 2 more to go:
    RFA’s salary signings
    Kadri $4M
    Franson $3.2M
    Bernier $3M (Actual $2.9M)
    Gunnar $2.5M (Actual $3.15M)
    Fraser $1.8M (Actual $1.25M)
    Total $14.5M

    TopRightCorner says:
    July 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm
    I think you have way overpriced the RFA’s and need to shave off about 3-3.5 mil
    I even have doubts that Bernier gets 3 until he also proves himself

  7. Dont forget the leafs can go 10 % over the cap until the start of the season. I’m sure Nonis has a plan. I’m also sure his plan includes Kadri and Franson.

    • I agree he wants both Kadri and Franson but I also think he is desperately trying to unload someone to make it all work. It looks like the most likely candidate would be Kuli. I believe his Franson trade talk is him trying to get them down in price. If he can’t then he will have no choice but to trade Franson. Bad financial planning on his part.

      • I love to speculate, but let’s stop pretending like we know what Nonis was planning and how poor his financial planning has been. We’re going to know by December how successful/unsuccessful his planning has been, and my money is on Nonis having a great offseason plan.

        This guy made most of Burke’s moves in the past 7 seasons.

      • Wouldn’t the bad finacial planning be the extra 2.5 they have in cap space for guys not actually playing?

        • Jrd could be on to something there lol doesnt that extra mill for buying out Armstrong and Tucker kinda hurt now….another reason I cant see us buying out Liles. Liles Ashton to Carolina or The Islanders for a 3rd and a player making 950k or less… May get something done along those lines as much as it bugs me to package prospects with a player for a pick just to dump salary, very counter productive IMO If the line up of teams interested in Franson is long, you have to listen to the offers If some one say The Islanders offer up one of their very good young centers (besides Strome they have 2) and a pick that to me is a no brainer.

        • jrd
          The past is the past nothing they can do about the 2.5M for tucker and Armstrong but he knew that was on the books and still went out and over spent which put him in this predicament. Don’t forget the extra cash he had to keep on the Bernier trade or the extra $500k to $750k he spent on Bozak or trading for Bolland’s contract a third liner making $3.375M, on and on it goes. Don’t forget he got bailed out with the two compliance buyouts too. I have never had any issues with the additions he made it was the salary cost for those additions I didn’t like knowing full well our RFA’s would take the brunt for Nonis’s over payment for those additions. He will have to move Kuli, I really don’t see any other way. Hopefully it sort of ends up Bolland replaces Kuli and we get those draft picks back we gave up.

  8. Fans here talk about Fransen or Liles like both make a “huge” difference. imo They do not, they are your regular “average support” players. Now, what is going on with Kadri contract? How much is he looking to make?

    • I dunno dude. Franson finished 8th in dman points for the league, 4th in assists. I’m no math freak, but if you divide that by 30 teams it sure ain’t no support player.

      • I am not about to take his PPG average away from him, he has decent o-sive skill, no doubt. However he is average to below average in his own zone and let’s nto forget you are judging his production on very freaky short season.. He has as many give aways in 48 games as he did in last season in almost 60 games. So he does come with good and bad… Still, I give him credit he is top 4 on most teams.

        Anyway, like I said in my previous post.. What is up with Kadri and his contract?

    • I agree with you nitro lots of players have a good season in contract years then their careers die a slow and painfull death. This could prove to be even more true for a guy who has been around for a while then has some success in a very short season, its not like he even showed glimmers of this before this year and all of a sudden he is the next Nick Lidstrom. This has bad contract written all over it. Not one of these people claiming he is worth it can point to 1 thing besides this year that would make me think he is worth a 300% raise and if you think +/- has anything to do with anything I point you to exhibit A Mark Fraser

      • Forget the stats and watch Franson play. He vision, a rocket shot and quick first pass he will continue to produce. Could of told you that the previous year talented players just need to be given minutes and trust.

        • Vision of Franson and quick first pass? I urge you to look at (youtube) the Bartowski goal the Bruins first in game 7…lol A beauty of a no look pass thru the legs right on the tape, of a D man in the slot with absolutely no one around him.

    • Over the past four seasons, Franson’s points per game average look like .344, .363, .368 and .644. Once again, I’m no math freak, but I can spot trends. And this trend says the opposite of support player.

      • I am sure Nonis wants to keep him at reasoable price. He made about 1.2M and seeking 4? Almost 400% raise. I am not a math freak my self but jumping from .344, .363, .368 and .644. based on 48 games. :)

        Once again, Franson has every right to fight for his contract and imo 3M or 300% raise is something Nonis should sign him for..

        Again…. depends on what Kadri is looking to get because using your math.. Kadri right now is a 10M dollar player. :)

        • i agree that $4M is high. I also agree that $3M is low.
          I don’t think he’s as important as Bogosian.. but I don’t think we’ve seen Franson’s ceiling yet. He put up those numbers whilst making a ton of youthful mistakes, with only 16-18 mins of ice time.

          • and if Kadri wants to make around 4?

        • not certain how my math makes kadri a $10M player.

          • In 2010 Kadri scored 12pts in 29 games
            In 2011 Kadri scored 7pts in 21 games
            In 2012 Kadri scored 44pts in 48 games.

            If you do your PPG average calculation for Kadri (.41 .33 .91) the same way you did for Franson. Kadri may as well ask for 6-7M.

            Obviously, I was over exaggerating with 10M a year :), I thought you would catch on.

          • you do know that forwards should have on average twice as many pts as dmen, right?

          • To be honest, I didn’t know that I had a math.. but if I did, I would say Kadri lands in around 3 – 3.5M. In around Franson money, but I personally think he should earn less.

        • Don’t forget the .368 was skewed because he was benched most of the year under Wilson and lack major confidence so last years figure could have easily been between.363, and .644. Who knows for sure?

          • How is points per game skewed by the number of games? You take the number of points and devide it by the number of games…dosent matter how many games you missed or played, simple concept really…

          • Idiot. Once again you missed the point. CONFIDENCE!!!! was the point

      • One of these numbers not look kinda outa place to you? Me thinks hes more likely closer to the .35-.36 and I wouldnt be willing to bet 4 million dollars on him returning to .644 in a full season against better competition

        • ok so his 2nd yr is 5.5% better than his first. his 3rd is 1.4% better than his 2nd. his 4th is 75% better than his 3rd.. and somehow his 5th and 6th seasons he’s supposed to go right back to where he was in his 2nd and 3rd NHL season? i don’t think that’s realistic. expect his pt production to land at the min 6% better than his 3rd season, or .390 pts per game avg. my guess is .400 pts per game, which is only 32 pts if he plays 80 games. not exactly a stretch from his 2nd ever NHL season. he’s also reducing his PIM drastically. i’m not defending him making $5M. I’m defending him not being a support guy.. point production support maybe.

          • That would be the trend yes you cant assume that the number thats 75% higher then the previous 3 that all have a variance of 3-5% is the norm, and depending on the competition I would suggest that you cant even say for sure that it will continue to climb, all those numbers were compiled from being a bottom pairing D If he now faces a tougher competition there is going to be a real possibility that the % would go down. If they can somehow get rid of Liles with out being stupid about it yes we should keep him I agree but like others have said give him a bridge deal maybe 6 mill 2 years see what he can do in a second pair role and go from there he is worth no more then that.

          • fair enough… just you’re assuming zero development.. i expect the competition to get better, just as i expect him to get better. sticking to 32 pts this upcoming season.

    • Just because someone careers it in a contract year, doesn’t mean it’s because it was their contract year. Some times it’s simply the timing of their development. He’s young remember, still a growing boy.

      There are lots of defensemen year season who decide they’re going to be Nick Lidstrom in their contract year. Not many can finish fourth best in assists just simply by wishing it.

      • defensemen year season = defensemen each season

  9. A little more for Fraser than I would have thought but not by much. Hopefully he excels this season and maybe he gets his two million.

  10. Already said this in the news section but my prediction is leafs trade Liles to the Avs for Andre Benoit and a 4th while holding on to 1m of his salary. That would give the leafs 2m extra and a total of 6.8 roughly. 2yrs 3.5per for Kadri and 3yrs 3.2per for Franson. Just my guess anyway.

    • I think if Liles could have been moved he would have been by now. I can’t see kadri taking less then 4 mil.
      Something has to give somewhere even if they go over the cap they still need to be cap compliant by the start of the season.

      • My guess is Franson and Kadri will get a combined $7.2 (roughly) whether it’s $3.6M each or $3.8M Kadri and $3.4M Franson or the other way around pending a trade moving one of these guys out.
        According one regular poster here we should trade both guys since we have to maximize their return (buy low sell high) because he thinks neither guy will never be any better then they were last year..

        • i am really hoping one of you two takes the high road and stops trying to pick a fight with everypost

          • Love to but every time I make a post it’s followed up by one of his stupid responses trashing me so I just started doing it back to him considering most of his posts are him trying to jam his warped opinion down someone’s throat.

  11. Considering Grabovski was bought, he could be an affordable signing for the Caps and give them the depth they need down the middle.

  12. Trade Liles to Calgary or Phoenix for a 2nd rounder. They’re western conference teams who need dmen and have loads of cap space.

    • To Phoenix? Liles will be benched in Phoenix. They have 9 d-men under 1 way contract.

      • Am…they have 7 dmen

        • But if him and Randy dont really get along Cant see it goin much better with Tippet and his D Style of game