Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – With the salary cap for next season reduced from $72 million to $64 million, expect the Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster to get even younger.
During the 2003-03 season, the average age of Toronto’s lineup was around 32 but last season, the Maple Leafs were one of the youngest teams in the league with an average of 27.
“Those days of the ’90s, when you saw rosters with a handful of guys around at 35 and 36 those days are fading away,” said Toronto-based agent Ian Pulver, according to the Toronto Star.
With a lower salary cap, teams like the Maple Leafs are forced to forego the premium salaries of experienced hands to take a chance on younger, cheaper options.
“A lot of teams have spent money and they are near the cap or they have kids who they think are ready,” said Detroit Red Wings manager Ken Holland.
“So we have some younger players replacing some older players and in some cases, some salary demands of veteran players are above the marketplace,” he added.
The salary cap situation has forced players like Matthew Lombardi, Colby Armstrong and Tomas Kaberle to play overseas while others, like Douglas Murray, to accept a huge paycut from their previous salary.
Last season, Murray earned $2.5 million but his paycheck for this season was reduced to $1.5 million when he recently signed with the Montreal Canadiens.
Also, plenty of veteran players are still unemployed with two weeks before training camp, including Brenden Morrow, Dan Cleary, Ron Hainsey, Simon Gagne, Brad Boyes, Damien Brunner and David Steckel.
“I can still hear Bob Goodenow saying, ‘This is what’s going to happen when you accept a salary cap — your buddies aren’t going to have jobs,’” said Calgary Flames left wing Mike Cammalleri.
“And sure enough, here we are, and this is exactly the world we’re living in under the cap system,” he added.
Cammalleri was referring to Goodenow, the head of the NHL Players’ Association around the time that the union lost both the 2004-05 season and the battle to beat back the much-dreaded cap.
“Now, maybe with fewer veterans now, the impression you make on the young guys is even more important to setting the culture of a team,” Cammalleri said.