Mechanics of the Salary Cap for a Trade by Matt Murray

The Guardian Market. Here is where things stand. The Edmonton Oilers sign Jack Campbell at something like 5×5. The Washington Capitals, who failed to qualify Ilya Samsonov, sign Darcy Kuemper at probably something closer to 6. And the Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators. Most likely.

Things can always change, but right now Murray is the best option the Leafs have. I know, I know, but it’s true. He’s not super old, he’s not inexperienced, he’s been successful in the past, and he’s not super expensive. Wait, let’s get back to that expensive thing because I’m pretty sure Matt Murray’s cap is $6.25 million, with $7.5 million owed to him in each of the next two years (that’s is actually $7 million and $8 million in salary over those two years but we’ll average it out).

That hit cap is a problem, and it’s one of the alleged hang-ups currently going on with this ongoing deal. The other is that the Leafs are carefully assessing Murray’s health to make sure there are no surprises for them.

Currently, there are two plausible money deals that can happen with Murray.

  1. Ottawa keeps 50% of Murray’s cap and salary, and the Leafs get the remaining 50% of his contract.
  2. Ottawa only keeps 25% of Murray’s cap and salary, a third team keeps half of what’s left, and the Leafs get 37.5% of his contract (Leafs and third team split 75% of Murray’s contract ).

The math for option 1

I know math is a difficult and traumatic subject for many people. I should know, I’m a new teacher and every time I tell people what I’m doing they tell me they suck at math and they hate it. Thanks, I still need to hear that. But we’ll start simple and do the hard part later.

In the first deal, the Leafs and Senators split Murray’s cap and salary equally, as follows:

Ottawa 50%: $3.125 million achieved, salary of $3.75 million (each season)

Toronto 50%: $3.125 million achieved, salary of $3.75 million (each season)

Total: $6.25 million earned, $7.5 million salary (each season)

Easy! Now the hardest part.

Mathematics for option 2

The deal with Buffalo before Murray shut it down was that the Senators kept only 25% of the full contract and Buffalo took the remaining 75%. This possibility has been mooted on the Senators’ side because they don’t want a big cap on their books for the summer after this one when Stutzle and Debrincats expire.

The other possible explanation from Friedman’s 32 Thoughts podcast was that Buffalo wanted more of the contract so they could get to the ground. It is possible that this second option is not necessary, but we will continue.

Taking 75% of Murray’s contract is basically what the Leafs should do, except the Leafs will want to split that 75% with a third team. Get out your calculator apps and plug in 75 divided by 2. That’s 37.5. That means the Leafs and that mysterious third team* would split 37.5% of Murray’s total contract.

Here’s what it looks like (I rounded just a bit to keep the eyes from rolling):

Ottawa at 25%: $1.56 million reached, salary of $1.875 million (each season)

Toronto 37.5%: cap of $2.34 million reached, salary of $2.81 million (each season)

Arizona* 37.5%: cap hit $2.34M, salary $2.81M (each season)

Total: $6.25 million earned, $7.5 million salary (each season)

*you can call the Arizona third team if you want for simplicity

The difference

For the Senators, it’s half of $3.125 million, so a savings of $1.56 million in cap hit, a little more in salary each season.

For the Leafs, it’s the difference between $3.125 million and $2.34 million, so approximately $785,000. Not much for them at all. They are not the ones who want the savings here.


Whether that trade is with two teams or three doesn’t matter to the Leafs. They get much less relief than the Senators. To me, that means the team that would have to pay the Coyotes’ assets to accept this contract is the Senators. Again, I don’t think the Leafs should give up anything of value in this business. Arguably they should get assets with Murray because that’s what Ottawa agreed with Buffalo before Murray’s NTC shut him down.


What did you learn from this lesson?

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    Leafs get Murray for 50%

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  • 0%
    Leafs get Murray for 37.5%

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    I learned something!

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  • 0%
    My brain hurts!

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