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Leafs low on forwards, cap space Add to ...

On a day when the Maple Leafs shipped out six players and brought in three new bodies, there's an awful lot to digest. Let's start with the basic numbers, beginning with the skaters:

Those 57 goals on the way out represent 39 per cent of the Leafs' goal production this season, and it's highly likely Toronto struggles to score down the stretch as a result. The team's situation at forward will have to be addressed in the off-season, something I'll get to in a minute.

(Not represented above is the prospect Brian Burke acquired from the Flames, Keith Aulie, who is a fairly well-regarded defensive defenceman in the AHL right now.)

The most incredible thing about those stats above are the ones from the two blueliners trading teams:

Now, that's not to say White's a better player than Phaneuf - and certainly not to say he has more potential - but the fact is that he's been one of the best Leafs all season and remains underrated around the league. He's due for a big pay raise but won't come near to the contract Phaneuf has and has been a far better bargain this year.

Whether or not this deal pays off depends on Phaneuf living up to his contract, and he's got a ways to go. A long ways, in my mind.

Where the Leafs have definitely improved is in goal, as Vesa Toskala's NHL career is likely all but over after this season. J-S Giguere, meanwhile, should show more life in a new situation and reunited with former goalie coach Francois Allaire. He's only 32, and was an elite netminder for quite a while prior to cratering :

Given where they've been the past few seasons, a .900 save percentage looks pretty good in Toronto these days. The Leafs were dead last in 2008-09 with a .885 save percentage and are again in 30th this year with a .884.

The salary cap implications

Burke freed up about $1.7-million this season, which is good news in case he plans on taking on any other teams' bad contracts as a way of making more deals before the deadline. But given all of these trades are aimed at next season and beyond, it's the 2010-11 cap situation that's more relevant for the Leafs.

Stajan, Mayers and Toskala were coming off the books anyway, so they're not part of the discussion here, but Burke's best move of the day was somehow offloading two more years of Blake's deal at $4-million a season. In that contract's place comes Giguere's $6-million cap hit for next season.

Hagman has two more years at $3-million, and White, a restricted free agent this summer, is likely due at least that much given how well he's played this season.

Phaneuf and Sjostrom, meanwhile, combine for $7.25-million.

Here's the complete rundown as to next year's cap situation:

Leafs take on: Phaneuf: $6.5-million Giguere: $6-million Sjostrom: $750,000 Total: $13.25-million

Leafs give up: Blake: $4-million Hagman: $3-million White: Est. $3-million Total: $10-million

So he's spent a little of his cap space there.

Combined with the other contracts Burke has on the books for next season, that leaves Toronto with roughly $13-million cap space and only 14 players signed. Nikolai Kulemin, John Mitchell and Jonas Gustavsson are RFAs that may or may not return.

Under contract for 2010-11: Forwards: Kessel, Bozak, Grabovski, Orr, Sjostrom, Rosehill Defencemen: Phaneuf, Komisarek, Kaberle, Beauchemin, Finger, Schenn, Gunnarsson Goalies: Giguere

With Phaneuf now in the mix, the Leafs have far too many dollars (about $25-million) committed to the blueline, and Tomas Kaberle would seem the obvious player to be moved out this off-season. The Leafs have already attempted to unload Jeff Finger, meanwhile, so he's in danger of getting the boot, too, if someone will take him.

Up front, even if Kulemin and Mitchell are re-signed, Burke needs six or so bodies to score at least the goals lost in his deals made Sunday - and there really aren't a ton of talented unrestricted free agents to sign July 1.

Wherever they come from, with 32 per cent of the cap dedicated to just Phaneuf, Giguere and Kessel next season, it's going to be a tight squeeze to fit more top-six forwards into the mix.

 

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