Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis is interested in being aggressive this offseason. At least, that's the way it seems.
In speaking with Chris Johnston of Sportsnet after the general manager's meetings in Boston on Wednesday, Nonis addressed several facets of this offseason pertaining to team building and potential avenues to acquire players. Nonis stated that he has not been advancing negotiations with Toronto free agents because he wants to be mindful of the team's salary cap allocation and commitments.
With the cap dropping to $64.3 million next season, Nonis wants flexibility in order to capitalize on teams looking to shed cap commitments to become compliant, via Sportsnet:
"We have to be mindful of how much we're committing. We want to make sure that we have the ability to take advantage of opportunities that come our way. If you don't have cap space you're locked into players that might be eating up too much of that cap space and you're going to put yourself in a difficult situation."
As of Thursday, Toronto has four unrestricted free agents and seven restricted free agents. The crop of unrestricted players include forwards Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak. The restricted free agent group is headlined by Nazem Kadri and includes defenseman Cody Franson.
While Nonis is interested in exploring player acquisition via trade and unrestricted free agency, the manager also believes that talent could be available via the restricted market:
"I think there'll be some pretty good (restricted free agents) that aren't necessarily qualified. And it's not because the teams want to lose those players. In some cases it's very difficult to retain them all. The cap coming down is going to play a significant role and there's no way around that."
The declining salary cap is an interesting component to this offseason. With the exception of the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, every team in the league has two compliance buyouts available. This could infuse the unrestricted free agency market with some interesting names.
In terms of Toronto's position in using a buyout, Nonis states that there is a distinct possibility that it is a strategy the team uses.
The compliance buyout period will begin 48 hours after the deciding game of the Stanley Cup Final and will conclude at 5 p.m., ET on July 4. Unrestricted free agency will begin on July 5.