The Toronto Maple Leafs have already announced that both Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk will be shut down for the rest of the season. While that definitely helps the Leafs tank job, it might signal the end to the tenure with the Leafs for one of them.
Lupul was one of the Leafs rumored to be moved if the Leafs could find someone to take on his contract. Now that he is done for the rest of the season, that plan is out the window. However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t played his as a Maple Leaf.
The option remains open that the Leafs could trade him at the draft. However, could the the Leafs go the buyout route? It has been talked about before. After this season, Lupul will have two years remaining with a total of $9 million left to be paid. If the Leafs choose to buy him out during the buyout period, they the cap hit would be $6 million split between the next four seasons.
The cap hit in each season would look like this: $1.5 million in 2016-17, $3 million in 2017-18 and $1.5 million in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Since his cap hit would be $5.25 for each of the next two seasons, that would be a lot of savings.
So should the Leafs buy Lupul out? In his six seasons as a Leaf, he has played 280 out of a possible 469 games and it will be 492 by the time the season ends. So of course, injuries have been a problem. The most he’s played in a single season with the Leafs is 69, achieved in the 2013-14 season. That is why it has been hard to find a trade partner when it comes to Lupul.
The thing is, when he has been in the Leafs lineup, he has been a pretty good player. He has scored 88 goals and recorded 94 assists for a total of 182 points as a Leaf. Sure, he’s had his ups and downs but he has usually been a reliable offensive producer when he has been in the lineup. This year has been a down year, but then again, it’s been a down year for pretty much everyone on the team.
With the Leafs most likely bringing in a lot of young players next season, the Leafs will need veterans to help lead them. When it comes to leadership, Lupul definitely supplies it. He has been a regular assistant captain during his tenure. His leadership might be enough of a reason to keep him around.
So, should the Leafs buy Lupul out, since they are unlikely to trade him before Monday’s deadline? Is keeping him around worth it with all his injury troubles? What do you guys think?