Last night the Toronto Maple Leafs signed star center Austin Mathews to a 5 year extension that will average 11.6 million a year. This was something that Toronto had to do.

Mathews is a number one center and will be for a long time, so you have to pay him the type of money that you would pay other players of his caliber. Connor McDavid pulls in 12 million a year, John Tavares gets 11 million a year. So Austin falls right in between them with 11.6 million.

Now this creates an interesting problem for the Leafs. Next year they will start the season with 7.5 million in cap space. They will need to sign 8 players to have a full rosters. One of those players no longer under contract is star winger Mitch Marner.

Mitch Marner is a top 6 winger who has scored at least twenty goals every year he has been in the league. This year he is on pace to score 25 or more. That puts him in the same class as Willy Nylander 6.9 Million a year, and Jake Guentzel 6 Million a year. However public perception is that Marner is more than that. His offensive potential slots in closer to a Patrik Laine or David Pastrnak. He is capable of scoring 30 goals or more, but he plays on a team where he is in no way considered the trigger man. Which leads us to believe his price tag maybe north of 7 million.

However Marner is not the only issue for the Leafs. Headed into the 2019-20 season they only have four defenceman under contract. Sure Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin are studs, and Nikita Zaitsev and Travis Dermott are a serviceable second pairing. But that makes Justin Holl and every day defenceman, and you still have to find a way to sign another Dman. Let alone a guy who is an everyday NHLer.

Lets not forget they will also need to sign their entire 4th line and then some. Also just for good measure they don’t have a backup goalie!

How did a guy known for numbers f*ck up the cap this bad. The Leafs have been good for three years and they are already in the same position the Chicago Blackhawks are in. I can’t imagine what is going on in Kyle Dubas’s head right now. Hell I had to take a xanax just to write this article. That guy is currently living this problem.

Look it’s no secret the NHL is at its best when its marque franchises are doing well. So trust me when I say there is no bigger franchise than Toronto. The NHL will have to extend the cap simply to give Toronto breathing room. Preferably to the tune of 5 million. A lot of people are looking at the Edmonton Oilers and wondering how things got this bad. Well folks it maybe time to turn your attention to the Leafs, because unless they win the cup this year it’s gonna be awhile before they can clear the cap space to balance their roster.

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Written by Johnny Violence

The lead NHL/Hockey writer for Thoughts From The Bench.

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