The Toronto Maple Leafs will trade goaltender Garret Sparks to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for the contract of forward David Clarkson and a 2020 fourth-round pick.
.@SportChek Player Alert: @MapleLeafs acquire a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and forward David Clarkson from Vegas in exchange for goaltender Garret Sparks.— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 23, 2019
Details >> https://t.co/u88YYDti7Y pic.twitter.com/hNEFtkqsIZ
Clarkson hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season and is currently on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) with no intention of returning.
for Day 1 of season, the most they can exceed cap (LTIR cushion) is the $3M they're over Cap. If they were cap compliant w/out Horton on LTIR (e.g. $100K under cap) & then put Horton on LTIR, they could exceed cap by his $5.3M less cap space at the time ($100K), so $5.2M. (2/4)— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 24, 2019
As @EarlSchwartz27 points out, it also allows them to sign Marner once the season has started. Before, it would have been very difficult to make the #'s work to get enough LTIR cushion to have him on roster if he signed after season started. (4/4)— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) July 24, 2019
The Maple Leafs will certainly place Clarkson on LTIR as a means to create cap space, with the goal of signing restricted free agent Mitch Marner to a lucrative, long-term deal.
Key takeaway from the Clarkson trade: Leafs increase their flexibility, most crucially on the Marner front. Now, if he’s not signed by Oct. 1 they won’t have to trade anyone to accommodate a larger, pro-rated year one cap hit. Extra LTI room allows them to keep the team together.— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) July 23, 2019
Sparks will now compete against Malcolm Subban for the Golden Knights’ backup goaltender role, with Marc Andre-Fleury entrenched as the starter.
Ahead of the 2018-19 season, Sparks won the backup role for the Maple Leafs, with Frederik Andersen continuing to face one of the heaviest volumes of starts in the NHL. Sparks led the AHL’s Toronto Marlies to a Calder Cup victory in 2017-18 and was named as the league’s best goaltender.
Sparks signed a one-year, $750,000 extension with the Maple Leafs in March but drew criticism after he called out his team for not showing enough emotion amid a mid-March slump, highlighted by a 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The 26-year-old posted a .902 save percentage and 3.15 goals against average in 2018-19, sporting a 8-9-1 record.
Toronto recently signed Michal Neuvirth, who will battle against Michael Hutchinson for the backup spot, rendering Sparks expendable.
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