According to TSN hockey analyst Dave Poulin, a Toronto Maple Leafs pursuit of free agent defenseman Alex Pietrangelo requires General Manager Kyle Dubas to waiver from his philosophy and the way he wants to build a hockey team.
“I don’t see the Pietrangelo thing going…unless you’re changing your team and changing your philosophy dramatically. If you do those things, you can do anything you want. But the numbers flat-out don’t work. “
To back-up his point, Poulin counted players the Maple Leafs have signed for 2020/21 and their available cap space; nine forwards, three defensemen that can play in the NHL (Morgan Reilly, Jake Muzzin, and Justin Holl), two goalies, and $9.3 million in cap space. He also noted the signed players do not include forward Ilya Mikheyev and defenseman Travis Dermott.
Dubas Has to Waiver from His Philosophy
According to the NHL’s Hockey Operations Guidelines, each club may have a maximum of 23 players on the playing roster and a minimum of at least 20 players, excluding players on the injured reserve. There is a specified breakdown for players on the roster, 18 skaters and two goaltenders.
Poulin’s number of nine forwards was absolutely correct. His number of three defensemen was qualified by referring to them as NHL ready. In actuality, the Maple Leafs have a total of seven NHL defensemen signed. In addition to the three mentioned by Poulin there is Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Martin Marincin, and Calle Rosen.
Aligning the signed players to the NHL Hockey Operations Guidelines, the Maple Leafs currently have 16 skaters (nine forwards and seven defensemen) and two goaltenders. For compliance purposes the Maple Leafs must add two more skaters to reach the minimum of 20 players.
It goes without saying that Poulin knows more about hockey and more about the NHL salary cap than I do, however a quick peek at the Cap Friendly tells me the Maple Leafs cap space is $6.1 rather than $9.3 million.
Nonetheless, with a decision required on five RFA skaters, including Mikheyev and Dermott, and a desire to achieve an upgrade on defensemen Sandin, Liljegren, Marincin, and Rosen, it sure looks like Dubas must waiver from the way he wanted to build this hockey team.
Kyle Dubas Promised No Intention on Trading William Nylander
On December 1st 2018 Nylander signed his deadline deal with the Maple Leafs, a contract that carries a $6.96 million annual average hit against the salary cap. After the signing there were reports that Nylander said Dubas told him multiple times that he would not be traded as long as he’s in charge of the Maple Leafs.
In response to being asked about Nylander’s comments, Dubas said:
“The discussion that William and I had had a couple of times was a fear of his …that he was being signed to be traded, and my discussion with him, I just affirmed with him that that was not our intention whatsoever.”
So here we are, speculating if Dubas must waiver from his philosophy and the way he wants to build a hockey team. Although it was not his intention to trade Nylander, as reported, Dubas did not promise he wouldn’t. That’s not semantics. That’s a fact.
Let’s assume prior to becoming a free agent Pietrangelo is agreeable to a sign and trade transaction between the Blues and the Maple Leafs. Based on the high and low AAV estimates many are guessing it will take to sign the star right-handed defenseman, Dubas has to offer Nylander and his $6.96 million cap hit to Blues GM Doug Armstrong.
Truth is, Dubas needs the Blues to take more than Nylander for Pietrangelo but Armstrong can’t take more. He has his own cap issues to deal with. While some suggest Armstrong would take a package of draft picks in return, for cap reasons Dubas can’t do that.
Besides, by agreeing to take Nylander in a sign and trade Armstrong mitigates the high probability that the Blues will be without Vladimir Tarasenko for the start of the 2020/21 season. Nylander for Pietrangelo gives Armstrong something immediately significant for an asset he might otherwise lose without getting anything in return.
Sounds like a hockey deal, to me. And quite frankly, I don’t see it as Dubas abandoning the way he wants to build a hockey team. He’s not going back on his word. Sure, Nylander may very likely see it differently however I believe current and potentially future players won’t question the integrity of the way he wants to build a hockey team.
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