Shanahan: Maple Leafs 'will have cap issues' as long as we're contenders

Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star / Getty

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan understands the challenges that lie ahead for his team in the salary cap era.

The 50-year-old executive signed a six-year extension with the club Tuesday and was transparent about the Maple Leafs' cap situation as they continue their effort to end a 52-year Stanley Cup drought.

“As long as we are hopefully a Stanley Cup contender we will have cap issues, so Toronto should get used to that," Shanahan said, according to Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Prime Time Sports.

"The better you become, the less peaceful it is, the more anxiety there is, because each decision means more and so you still have problems,” he added. “They’re just better problems."

The Maple Leafs face a challenging summer, with young blue-chipper Mitch Marner lined up for his first big-money contract, and valuable core pieces Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson also becoming restricted free agents.

Defensemen Jake Gardiner, Ron Hainsey, Martin Marincin, and forward Tyler Ennis are all coming off the books this summer as well.

When it comes to Marner, the two sides are still early in the negotiation process, but Shanahan said he had a positive meeting with the 22-year-old's agent Tuesday.

“I have a lot of respect for Darren Ferris,” Shanahan said. “Obviously, our admiration for Mitch and how he plays the game and how he evolved this year and how he developed, rounded out his game and added, not even just his offensive creativity and prowess but penalty killing and just his overall game has improved so much, so it was a positive meeting."

With John Tavares' $11-million contract and Auston Matthews $11.63-million on the books next season, the Leafs may end up rostering three players making $10-plus million.

Shanahan understands that while staying beneath the cap and remaining competitive in the long run is difficult, it's a privilege to be in a situation where you have a chance to lock up high-end talent.

“When we’re not dealing with cap issues, we’re probably rebuilding,” he said.

Shanahan: Maple Leafs 'will have cap issues' as long as we're contenders
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