Once you get beyond the sticker shock of the $10.89M cap hit, the Mitch Marner contract is a reason for the Toronto Maple Leafs to rejoice. Rather than the saga drag on deep into the season like the William Nylander fiasco, Marner is gearing up in training camp.
Apparently the Maple Leafs will still be without a noteworthy player or two anyway, even though their losses aren’t nearly as significant as the prospect of being without Marner.
Head coach Mike Babcock estimates that forward Zach Hyman could miss approximately 14-15 games, while defenseman Travis Dermott may be sidelined for a similar span (12-14 games), according to TSN’s Karen Shilton.
If that forecast is correct, then the Maple Leafs could anticipate Hyman and Dermott back sometimes during this range:
Game 12 – Oct. 25: home vs. Sharks
Game 13 – Oct. 26: at Canadiens
Game 14 – Oct. 29: home vs. Capitals
Game 15 – Nov. 2: at Flyers
Naturally, when it comes to injuries, things can change. Ailments can worsen, or players can heal up faster than expected.
All due respect to two useful players in Dermott and Hyman, but the cap management aspect — particularly use of LTIR, and juggling once they’re ready to come back — is likely the most interesting part of this situation.
We already know that Nathan Horton ($5.3M AAV) and David Clarkson ($5.25M) will be on LTIR through the final season of their tragic contracts, providing $10.55M. Hyman carries $2.25M, while Dermott weighs in at $863K. The window for an LTIR stay is at least 10 games and 24 days, so one would expect that Hyman and Dermott would join Clarkson and Horton on LTIR. With Dermott’s cost fairly minimal, things would be most cramped once Hyman is healthy enough to play again. Will Toronto be forced to make a trade, or waive someone they’d rather keep?
Losing Hyman and Dermott for what sounds like close to a month isn’t great to begin with, but things could be especially tricky once they can actually play.
Although the Maple Leafs solved some of their biggest riddles, they’ll still need to answer more questions in the short term, so Babcock could be a busy man — almost as busy as Kyle Dubas.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.