TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken advantage of long-term injury relief, general manager Lou Lamoriello said Wednesday following the team’s development camp.
Injured forwards Nathan Horton and Joffrey Lupul were eligible to be placed on LTIR to clear up cap space. They make $5.3 million and $5.25 million, respectively. The Leafs would be up against the $75-million cap without a reprieve, although NHL teams are permitted to go over the cap by 10 per cent in the off-season.
They signed winger Patrick Marleau, defenceman Ron Hainsey and centre Dominic Moore once free agency began. Marleau’s contract was particularly onerous. The 37-year-old has the highest cap hit on the team at $6.25 million after signing a three-year deal on July 2.
The Leafs then agreed to terms with restricted winger Zach Hyman on a four-year, $9-million deal.
Winger Connor Brown, 23, still needs a new contract and doesn’t have arbitration rights. Brown had 20 goals and 36 points in 82 games as a rookie this past season. Lamoriello expects a new pact will come eventually.
“As I’ve said, we’ll have him in training camp,” he said of Brown. “We’ll do everything we can to get that done as quickly as we can.”
The development camp wrapped up with another day of absences from winger Jeremy Bracco and top goaltending prospect Joseph Woll.
Lamoriello said Bracco has contracted mononucleosis and Woll has a minor hamstring ailment and was kept out as a precaution.
Bracco is expected to turn pro after splitting last season with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires. The 20-year-old had 25 goals and 83 points in 57 games and helped the Spitfires win the Memorial Cup on home ice.
“I won’t look at it as a setback unless it takes longer than it should,” Lamoriello said of Bracco. “We know what he can do. But summer training is very, very important so hopefully he can get at all as quickly as he can.”
Lamoriello also confirmed defenceman Timothy Liljegren, the club’s 2017 first-round pick, will either play for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies or return to Sweden next season. The team signed Liljegren to his entry-level contract Wednesday afternoon.
“We saw exactly what we thought we would – an outstanding skater, great poise out there,” Lamoriello said. “I was impressed with him not taking chances to try and be impressive. He’s a rushing defenceman. I thought he was very poised and did all the little things.
“We’re extremely happy with him. We’ll make a decision as far as what his future is in a short period of time.”