The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has acquired a fourth-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft and forward David Clarkson from Vegas in exchange for goaltender Garret Sparks.
Clarkson, 35, last played an NHL game in March 2016 after suffering a career-ending injury.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 23, 2019
The Clarkson deal is not about acquiring an asset for Sparks, this is a cap move. May seem odd to acquire a $5.25m contract when your team is tight to the cap, but this is purely a LTIR move for the #Leafs to enter the season with Marner unsigned.
Before this move, the Leafs would not have been able to get full LTIR relief for Horton without Marner being signed, and would have been unable to sign Marner without Horton on LTIR once the season starts.
The Leafs roster will look something like this to start the season, and without Marner signed they cannot elevate close enough to the cap in order to get enough LTIR relief from Horton to sign Marner mid-season.
If the Leafs were to enter the season without Horton on LTIR, the total amount of cap space they will have on the day Horton is placed on LTIR will be $5.3m. They can use recalls to get that number closer to $6m, but it’s still not enough to sign Marner.
Now, with Horton and Clarkson, it looks a little different. If Marner signs before the season starts, the Leafs can get full relief from Horton/Clarkson, and there’s no change from the original plan. On the other hand, this opens up the possibility of another holdout.
If Marner does wait until the regular season has started, the Leafs will need to bury ~$1m in order to be compliant on the first day of the season (Ceci?), then they can make the necessary recalls to get as close to the cap as possible.
After that, the Leafs will place Horton and Clarkson on LTIR simultaneously, then recalll all the players they had on the roster originally. Mikheyev is waiver exempt and will likely get papered around a bit.
Moral of the story is, the Leafs are preparing to start the season without Marner, and the fans should too. Could just be a negotiating tactic, but who knows.