With improving health comes salary cap decisions for the Maple Leafs

On Saturday night the Leafs had the luxury of icing a near full lineup, which seems like nothing short of a miracle given the current COVID situation. Jake Muzzin didn’t quite make the cut come game time and Timothy Liljegren remains in protocol until the Oilers game (assuming he’s symptom free). On the forward side of things the Leafs even managed to have Nick Ritchie in the pressbox, certainly a sign that the forward group is ready to roll.
Health is good, but in a salary cap era, there is a minor hiccup. That hiccup is the Leafs can’t afford to keep everyone.

A fully healthy Leafs lineup with Timothy Liljegren out of COVID protocol equals just over $81M, which it’s really a problem until you factor in the retained salary of Phil Kessel. That retained salary pushes Toronto to a $783k overage, and forces some decisions to be made.
The easy short term decision is what we’ll likely see to start, and that will be Toronto taking advantage of the waiver exempt status of both Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin. Ideally both of them would be in the lineup. Ideally both would be on …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Michael Hutchinson is the Leafs third string goaltender and that’s fine

Aaron Dell was going to be a very nice luxury in the right year to have goaltending depth. Combine the Leafs cap realities with the fact that New Jersey and Washington lost established goaltenders before the season even started, and it took all of a day into the season before the Oilers were without half of their tandem, in losing Mike Smith, it was clear that Aaron Dell was going to be short-lived as a Leaf, and the Plan B of Michael Hutchinson was going to be an unfortunate reality of the season.
Most of our memories of Michael Hutchinson come from last season, where he was not particularly good in his backup role to Freddie Andersen. The more the team needed to rely on him, the more he seemed to disappoint. That stems from the fact that Hutchinson isn’t quite an NHL goaltender, but he has been able to thrive in the third string role.
Throughout Hutchinson’s career he has bounced between the AHL and the NHL. It has been five seasons since Hutchinson spent the full year with a NHL team. Third string is his wheelhouse, and here he is. Would Dell have been better? Yes. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation