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Understanding Toronto's Malone Fetish

It seems that since 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been salivating over the thought of having Ryan Malone fill up a spot on their roster, and it makes sense too, seeing that the 6’4, 219 pounder would fit right in with the Toronto club. In the past, none of these rumours have come to fruition but this off-season has once again triggered people to talk about Malone’s potential move to the Leafs.

The initial rumour had Ryan Malone heading to the Leafs in 2009 – a deal that would have also included trading first-round draft picks. It never happened, and last summer rumours began again that Malone would be traded to Toronto in a deal that would send defenceman Tomas Kaberle to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Malone had 34 points in 58 games last season and here we are again, in the off-season approaching the 2011-12 season, where the buzzing is all around us. The latest hubbub surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ryan Malone is this: Ryan Malone and prospect Carter Ashton would head to Toronto and Tampa Bay would receive goaltender Jussi Rynnas and some sort of draft pick.

But Ryan Malone not only has four years left on his contract with Tampa Bay, he also has a no-movement clause for each of those years. He also has a cap-hit of $4.5-million, which would be a lot of money for the Leafs to take on – especially as they move closer towards their cap limit (and that’s not including the signing of Luke Schenn).

Not only does this deal not work for the Leafs; it doesn’t for Tampa Bay either. With their roster now set, the Lightning don’t have a gritty left-winger who could replace Malone at this time. He has a specific role on the team that would simply be abandoned by letting him go. On top of that, Carter Ashton is proving himself to be one of the top prospects for the Bolts. As reporter Terry Koshan pointed out, if Tampa were to make any trades before the season began, those trades would most likely involve moving defenceman, as the Bolts now have eight on one-way contracts.

Above: Players that won't be Leafs this year.

Before the signing of Steven Stamkos, this deal may have been needed to create cap space for Stamkos’ new contract. But with Stamkos now signed, it’s clear to see that the Tampa Bay Lightning can financially handle hanging on to Ryan Malone – which is something they clearly wanted to do. Sorry, Toronto.


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