Maple Leafs Commentary: Engvall’s Signing. What Does It Mean?

Shortly after Pierre Engvall elected to go to arbitration yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed the 26-year-old Swede. Last season, Engvall scored 15 goals and added 20 assists (for 35 points) in 78 games last season. The result was a raise of a cool $1 million, in a one-year $2.25 million contract.

What Does Engvall’s Signing Mean to the Maple Leafs?

For Engvall, his new contract means he gets a $1 million raise over his previous two-year deal that paid him $1.25 million per season. This one-year deal also takes him to Unrestricted Free Agent status next summer. It also means Engvall and the Maple Leafs avoided the entire arbitration process, which is usually combative and can leave a sour taste in the relationship between a player and a team.

Related: Hockey News: Arbitration Hearings; Steroids in Hockey

We fully expect that Engvall will slide right back into where he finished the season, alongside David Kampf on the third line. We also expect the newly acquired Calle Jarnkrok to complete that line. Once again Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe has a solid shutdown third line.

Pierre Engvall Toronto Maple Leafs
Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Engvall could get a look on the second line alongside John Tavares and William Nylander. 

For the Maple Leafs, it means one more piece of the roster puzzle is in place. The only Restricted Free Agent they still have to get signed is 22-year-old defenseman, Rasmus Sandin. 

Where Are the Maple Leafs in Regard to the Salary-Cap’s Upper Limits

It’s difficult to pin down exactly where the team is in relation to the salary cap due to the way the team has signed players signed to contracts. There is no way to determine whether the ultimate goal is to have some of these players in the NHL or in the AHL. 

Related: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews Is Undergoing a Transformation

If we include all the players signed to NHL deals who would have to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL, the Maple Leafs presently have 15 forwards signed for a total of $55,718,116, eight defensemen signed for a total of $23,825,000, and two goalies for a total of $6,487,500. When we add in the $212,500 bonus recapture penalty from the 2021-22 season, there’s now a total of 25 players signed for a total salary of $86,243,116.

That puts the Maple Leafs $3,743,116 over the salary cap and two players over the 23 roster limit.  

Maple Leafs’ Depth Players Who Might Be Moved

The team does have five players, Denis Malgin, Joey Anderson (who loses his waiver exempt status this season), Adam Gaudette, Jordie Benn, and Victor Mete who all make the NHL minimum of $750,000. These players could be placed on waivers to remove $3,750,000 from their cap hit. That would leave the Maple Leafs with the minimum 20-player roster and put them $7,884 under the salary cap. 

Joey Anderson #49, New Jersey Devils
Joey Anderson, when he played for the New Jersey Devils, November 15, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Once the team re-signs Rasmus Sandin, it will put them over the salary cap by however much he signs for. Another important note to mention is that the Maple Leafs now have 48 players signed to one or two-way NHL deals, just two short of the 50-contract limit. 

Trades Are Coming

All the activities taking place seem to logically lead to the one fact we’ve been writing about lately. There seems no doubt that trades are coming. The Maple Leafs need to clear more salary-cap space as well as give themselves some breathing room in the total number of contracts they’ve signed. 

Justin Holl Toronto Maple Leafs
Will Justin Holl be traded this summer by the Toronto Maple Leafs? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to see what their next move is.

Related: The Maple Leafs Will Trade William Nylander This Offseason

As Maple Leafs’ fans know, NHL teams can go over the salary cap in the offseason by 10%, or $8.25 million. It’s not until midnight the day before the regular season begins that they have to get down to the $82,500,000 salary cap limit.

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]

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