Toronto Maple Leafs: 6 Players Who Will Be Playing for Raises in a New Contract

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIAugust 4, 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs: 6 Players Who Will Be Playing for Raises in a New Contract

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    This offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs faced a summer when they had to re-sign a bunch of their key players to new contracts. Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson and James Reimer have all re-upped with the Leafs. Luke Schenn is yet to be signed, but he will most likely be signed within the next couple of weeks.

    Next offseason, however, the Leafs have a combined 10 players who will be either restricted or unrestricted free agents that made some big contributions for the Leafs or their previous team this past season. I will look at the biggest six of them in this slideshow.

    In total, their will be a total of $14,883,333 coming off the cap after next season. Depending on how much Schenn signs for, the Leafs will again have around 20 million dollars to spend next offseason, which could come in handy with all the quality players that could be available. Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Dustin Penner, RJ Umberger, Brad Boyes and Rich Peverley could all be had come next July 1.

    First, the Leafs will have to re-sign these six players or choose to let them go.

Nikolai Kulemin

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    2011-12 Salary: $2,200,000

    Cap Hit: $2,350,000

    2010-11 Stats: 82 games played, 30 goals, 27 assists, 57 points

    Free Agent Status: Restricted

    Nikolai Kulemin nearly doubled his production from 2009-10 this season. As part of one of the biggest surprises of the Leafs season, Kulemin formed the best line on the Leafs alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur.

    If the line can even come close to the production they had last season, then Kulemin should have no problem matching his production. Even if he drops to 25 goals, that won't be that bad. That being said, Kulemin's raise most likely won't be that much.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Kulemin get somewhere around three to 3.5 million per year.

Mikhail Grabovski

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    2011-12 Salary: $3,100,000

    Cap Hit: $2,900,000

    2010-11 Stats: 81 games played, 29 goals, 29 assists, 58 points

    Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

    Mikhail Grabovski is in pretty much the same boat as Kulemin. He too had career highs in goals, assists and points. The only difference is that Grabovski will be an unrestricted free agent, and that may cause him to be brought up in trade rumors.

    If the Leafs are not in the playoff hunt but he is producing like he did last season, he could be on his way out of Toronto. However, if the Leafs are in the playoff race, and they probably will be, he will be kept for the run.

    Depending on how much of a raise he wants, he could be let go in free agency. With Joe Colbourne most likely ready to take a second-line job by 2012-13, the need for Grabovski could simply run out. If he does re-sign, I would expect him to get pretty much the same salary as Kulemin.

John-Michael Liles

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    2011-12 Salary: $4,550,000

    Cap Hit: $4,200,000

    2010-11 Stats: 76 games played, six goals, 40 assists, 46 points

    Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

    The Leafs acquired John-Michael Liles with one year remaining on a four-year contract. The way that Liles plays this year determine whether he will be staying with the Leafs long-term.

    He will be tasked with replacing Tomas Kaberle's production and will be the quarterback of the power play. If he does both well, then he will more than likely be re-signed before the season is over. With the possibility high that he will play with Luke Schenn, he might be able to take more risks, and that should hopefully result in a heightened production.

    The one question about whether he will return is whether Jesse Blacker and Jake Gardiner are both ready for NHL duty in the 2012-13 season. If they are, Liles might be expendable. That being said, Brian Burke and Ron Wilson both like Liles, and that can go a long way. I would expect him to get around the same money he got with his previous contract.

Cody Franson

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    2011-12 Salary: $800,000

    Cap Hit: $800,000

    2010-11 Stats: 80 games played, eight goals, 21 assists, 29 points

    Free Agent Status: Restricted

    Cody Franson is only 24 years old and now will be one of the building blocks of a young Leafs defense. While he will most likely will be on the third pairing for this season, he stands a good chance of moving up the ranks in thext few years, especially if Liles isn't re-signed.

    The 2011-12 season will only be Franson's third in the NHL, and if he can continue his upward progress, the deal that brought him to Toronto will look even better.

    I would think that Franson's new contract will be around the one to 1.5 million mark.

Keith Aulie

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    2011-12 Salary: $525,000

    Cap Hit: $733,333

    2010-11 Stats: 40 games played, two goals, zero assists, two points, 32 penalty minutes

    Free Agent Status: Restricted

    After only playing half a season with the Leafs last season, Keith Aulie is preparing for his first full NHL season. Playing again with Dion Phaneuf, Aulie will be expected to play his hard-nosed game and annoy the other team's players. Don't expect many points out of him, but you will notice him every game.

    After playing so well in his first 12 game stint in a Leafs uniform, he basically facilitated Francois Beauchemin being traded to the Anaheim Ducks.

    Expect him to get one million per year on a long-term contract.

Jonas Gustavsson

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    2011-12 Salary: $1,400,000

    Cap Hit: $1,350,000

    2010-11 Stats: 23 games played, six wins, 13 losses, .890 save percentage, 3.29 GAA

    Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

    This year will determine Jonas Gustavsson's future with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Going into the season without the pressure of being the No. 1 goaltender, maybe Gustavsson will perform better as a back-up goaltender.

    If Gustavsson can perform well in support of James Reimer, then the Leafs' playoff chances go up. If Reimer falters, then Gustavsson will be counted upon to take over and perform better than he did last season.

    If Gustavsson is the back-up this season, then I have a feeling that he will depart in free agency. He originally came to Toronto because he knew he would have a chance to be the starter. If he no longer has that opportunity, then he will look for a new opportunity somewhere else. I believe he could become trade bait at the deadline.

Other Free Agents

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    Those six free agents aren't the only ones we will have to worry about. Matt Lashoff, Darryl Boyce, Phillippe Dupuis, and Jay Rosehill are all players who spent time with the Leafs who will need new contracts after this season.

    Ther is one good thing that will come with free agency next off season. The 2011-12 season will be the last season the Leafs will be paying Jeff Finger to play in the AHL. They're are also several minor-leaguers that the Leafs will need to sign.

    All in all, the Leafs will have a lot of decisions to make next off-season, and if all of the players play to their full potential, those decisions will be made a lot harder.