The Leafs have less than $5M in cap space left (if Gardiner plays in the AHL they have almost $6M) and they have Kadri and Franson left to sign. Kadri had 44 points in 48 games -- 2nd on the team -- but has no arbitration rights.
This article has an interesting table of potential comparables (players coming off their ELCs with similar PPG averages -- "career" as well as best year):
The article was written with 9 games to go in the season, and Kadri only had 4 points over the last 9 games. Still, his numbers are not all that different from Hall, Seguin, Skinner, Eberle, and better than Kane. Biggest issue is the number of games played. Because he had spent most of the first 2 years in the AHL and this past season was only 48 games, he only has 100 games under his belt. The closest to that is Hall, who had 126, but better PPG average overall.
Thing is, the Leafs cannot afford to pay him as much as any of the players on that list. Not without moving a contract or two. Gardiner in the AHL helps, then they have Frazer *and* Orr and really don't need either one. But who will take them? Demote them to the minors?
Sticky mess and, I'm sure, a couple of "Delicious" posts are coming up.