With a marathon draft and the New Jersey Devils pulling off a huge trade for Cory Schneider to start it all, what the Toronto Maple Leafs were working on behind the scenes on Sunday was a bit overshadowed.
But after Leafs GM Dave Nonis acquired Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks for a trio of picks, he met with the media in the bowels of the Prudential Center and laid out what plans he has in store for the next few days.
One of Nonis’s top priorities will be freeing up more cap space, as after adding Bolland’s deal and factoring in what netminder Jonathan Bernier will sign for, things are a bit tight.
(By my estimates, they’re probably down to about $6-million in wiggle room with all the restricted free agents accounted for. But it depends on what number Nonis can get that group signed for.)
He didn’t offer a definitive answer on re-signing pending free agent Tyler Bozak, but it’s safe to say that that looks more unlikely than ever.
As for the effect adding Bolland has on Mikhail Grabovski, Nonis talked about him returning to Toronto and having a rebound year, which appears to rule out the possibility he will be moved.
Nonis also noted it was unlikely he would use two compliance buyouts and, overall, gave the impression there’s still a lot he would like to accomplish before September.
Don’t be surprised, in other words, if the Leafs continue to be active leading up to and on July 5, when free agency will open at noon.
Here are some of the non-Bolland highlights of what Nonis said on Sunday night:
On the Bozak situation
“I wouldn’t rule out signing Tyler at all. We have things we can do to make room and Bozie was an important part of our team last year and if we can find a way to get him signed we will. Nothing’s changed in that department.”
On creating cap space
“One of the positives of the [Bolland] deal is he’s got a fairly cap friendly number. It works well for us. We still have some flexibility with some other things we can do to move pieces around. And having him at $3.3-million isn’t an issue if you’re going to get value out of him like I think we’re going to. He’s a very versatile guy with obviously Cup experience and roots to Toronto and a desire to play in Toronto. It’s a fit for us.”
Then later on: “We’ve just eaten up some cap space but we’re working on a couple of things that might free up some as well. If that happens, it’ll have an impact.”
On using two compliance buyouts
“Possibly but unlikely. But it’s possible. We’re talking about creating cap space and that’s one way.”
On losing Leo Komarov to the KHL
“That’s an area we might want to look to try and add that type of a player. We actually talked about a couple players that we might trade for that we felt would fit that role. We’re in position to maybe offer some chances to players with the Marlies to do that as well. Maybe not players as gritty as Leo but who play that same role and if we’re in that position then it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
On Grabovski’s future
“Grabo didn’t have the best year he’s ever had, there’s no secret about that. He didn’t have a very good season and there’s a lot of reasons for that. His health was part of it. But I think in the postseason he was very good. He competed. He looked more like his old self. And he’s going to have to get ready this offseason and get back and try to challenge for the minutes that he was expecting. Our coaching staff isn’t one that hands minutes out; you have to earn them. And Grabo has that capability. He’s just going to have to come back and do it.”