Leafs Sign Patrick Marleau
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed left wing Patrick Marleau to a three-year, $18.75 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average salary is $6.5 million. In actual salary, Marleau will receive $8.5 million in 2017-18 ($7 million up front as a signing bonus), $6 million in 2018-19 ($4.5 million as a signing bonus) and $4.25 million in 2019-20 ($3 million as a signing bonus). He also carries a full no-movement clause throughout the deal.
After 19 seasons with the Sharks, Marleau moves on to a promising young Leafs club. He’ll likely skate at left wing on one of the top-two forward lines.
Marleau’s been quite durable and consistent over his long career. He reached the 20-goal plateau 14 times (including 27 goals in 2016-17) and 40 points 17 times (including 46 last season). The expectation is he’ll continue his offensive ways in Toronto, bringing some invaluable experience and leadership to the young Leafs roster.
His age and the term of his new contract, however, are cause for concern.
Marleau turns 38 in September, and while he has still put up solid numbers in recent years, decline is inevitable at this stage in his career. If he struggles in Toronto, he and Leafs management will feel the heat from the fans and pundits.
Paying an aging asset over $6 million annually for three seasons could be an expensive gamble. It could also create some salary-cap difficulties when young Leafs stars, such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, become eligible for new contracts and significant raises within the next couple of years.