When training camp begins this September, Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis fully expects his remaining two restricted free agents - forward Nazem Kadri and defenceman Cody Franson - to be there.
For that to happen, though, Nonis might need to get creative.
The Maple Leafs have under $5 million remaining under the $64.3 million salary cap, which is down from last season's $70.2 million. Both of the Leafs' burgeoning stars are due raises, but Nonis, for his part, remains undaunted.
"From our standpoint, we have enough cap space in our minds to get both players signed and that's what we intend to do," Nonis told NHL.com in an interview. "There are definitely ways of making it work. That's our intention."
Teams are able to go up to 10 per cent over the cap prior to the official submission of roster at the beginning of the regular season which will allow for some wiggle room. Nonis expects movement in negotiations before then, but acknowledges that the falling cap has created difficulty in contract talk league-wide.
“I think there is recalibration that needs to take place on both sides. You look around the League and I think that's happening,” said Nonis, heading into his second season at the helm of the Leafs.” There are a lot of good UFAs [unrestricted free agents] that aren't signed because of the amount of money left in the marketplace."
Kadri was second on the Leafs in points last season, tallying 18 goals and 22 assists.
Franson, acquired from the Predators in 2011, finished eighth among defencemen in scoring last season tying a career-high with 29 points.