With the recent signing of Patrick Marleau the Toronto Maple Leafs may have overpaid the left winger. However, what is done is done and for better or worse the Leafs appear to be stuck with Marleau, now in his late 30s. Marleau is signed for three years and he has a no-movement clause. That is something that the Leafs have to manage around now, not something that they can avoid and perhaps that's a reason to be critical of the acquisition. After all, Marleau is passed his prime, it shows in his stats, and yet he got a big payday, albeit not as big as Kyle Lowry's was with the Toronto Raptors.

Leafs have situation to manage

With the Leafs currently over the salary cap by $1.6M (according to Spotrac), there is probably work for them to do in terms of balancing their player-roster salary.

There are ways to do that with creative accounting (ie. LTIR). But future transactions are a part of the mix as well. With Marleau in as a left winger in Toronto that calls into question the other forwards, especially the other left wingers, in regard to their futures with the club.

One left winger with Toronto is James Van Riemsdyk. His cap hit for next season is $4.25M, so the Leafs could trade him in exchange for a cheaper player to bring the salary-cap situation into balance. However, Van Riemsdyk does have a modified no-trade clause. That makes him a little tougher to move than another left winger, namely Matt Martin who has a cap hit of $2.5M next year.

In comparing Martin and Van Riemsdyk on the ice, the latter had 62 points in 82 games last season which means he's not exactly looking like dead weight for his salary next season of $4.25M.

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Matt Martin played in 82 games as well and he had just 9 points. Even for the lesser salary, clearly Martin is the player to offload when it comes to trying to get rid of an underachiever. His bang for the buck is nominal and, just to keep things simple, he doesn't have any kind of no-trade clause.

Would anyone want Martin?

But a valid question with Martin is this: who would want him? At 28 years old he isn't exactly an up-and-comer. He's -46 on career plus/minus and he only has 97 points in 520 career games: you can take an optimistic attitude toward someone in his 20s, but realistically Martin's stats don't lie and he's a far-below-average NHLer. He's a tough sell at $2.5M and that means that he might have to be moved as a part of a bigger deal or in exchange for another liability. That the Leafs might want to part with Martin is clear, but trading him might just be replacing one wrong with another.

The Leafs are also deep in centers with both Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri coming off of strong seasons.

Those are two players that would be risky to move in a city where there is pressure to do well next season. That said, Leo Komarov or Tyler Bozak could be on the move. They are good enough that there's actually going to be some interest in them and their salaries getting dumped could bring the salary-cap situation into balance without any creative accounting. The latter's cap hit next season is $4.2M so there's a chance to balance the salary cap there. Leo Komarov's cap hit next season is $2.95M. Bozak is the better player and Leaf fans would probably want to see him stay with the team. But Komarov in a salary-dump situation to a team in a position to take on some salary is a move that the Leafs could make.

At any rate, the Leafs are the only team in the red for cap space right now with Spotrac's NHL Team Salary Cap Tracker. That's no big deal given what the date is. However, it means that future transactions or LTIR loop-holes involving the Toronto Maple Leafs are coming as a matter of deduction as opposed to conjecture. Who will move is certainly debatable, but that Toronto created a situation that has to be solved due to the signing of Marleau is clear.