The Toronto Maple Leafs really turned things around in the 2017 season, thanks to their dynamic rookie class and good on team management to start pounding the pavement this summer, trying to ensure that the good times keep rolling.
Saturday's headline signing was defenseman Ron Hainsey, who was coming off a strong season in Pittsburgh, which included the championship. Hainsey saw a jump in his scoring production again, finishing 103rd among defensemen with 4 goals and 17 points in 72 games, between Carolina and Pittsburgh.
Hainsey signed a 2-year, $6 million deal as a 36-year old, which means it's a 35+ contract and will be on the books, good or bad season, regardless. It won't be too bad, if he can play out that contract on a pretty dynamic offensive team.
It was a little quieter on the overall free agency landscape on Sunday, but the Maple Leafs still made a splash in the pool, wooing Patrick Marleau away from the San Jose Sharks, giving him the term he was looking for in a 3-year, $18.75 million deal. Much like Hainsey, Marleau is also over the 35+ hill and a third season is quite the gamble for a team, especially a team that hovers at the cap ceiling constantly.
Nevertheless, Marleau still played in all 82 games last season for the Sharks, scoring 27 goals and 46 points, so there isn't any question about his recent durability and production, it will be more of a question about whether or not he can keep it up until he's 40 years old. There is some value in his leadership, so maybe Toronto is looking at the bigger picture here.
|Patrick Marleau||6.250||Morgan Rielly||5.000||Frederik Andersen||5.000|
|Nathan Horton||5.300||Nikita Zaitsev||4.500||Curtis McElhinney||0.850|
|Joffrey Lupul||5.250||Jake Gardiner||4.050|
|Nazem Kadri||4.500||Ron Hainsey||3.000|
|James Van Riemsdyk||4.250||Alexey Marchenko||1.450|
|Tyler Bozak||4.200||Martin Marincin||1.250|
|Leo Komarov||2.950||Connor Carrick||0.750|
All indications are that Nathan Horton and Joffrey Lupul will be back on the LTIR again for the 2018 season and boy, are the Maple Leafs going to need the help. With Horton and Lupul on the books today, they have a 24-man projected roster above, over $9.5 million in extra expenditures and they are now a shade over $2 million above the cap ceiling. Of course, Horton and Lupul will give the team $10.55 million in relief, since they won't play all season, but still... that's a fine line to be riding.
The Leafs had the highest total of bonuses paid out in the 2017 season and they were already at the cap ceiling, so those carried over to this year, which makes up $5.4 million against, something that may still carry over to next season, thanks to their super-kids.
I am still of the belief that some of the Toronto kids may fall victim to the sophomore jinx and there isn't a great deal that this team can do about it, except build around them and hope for the best. The Leafs are still a young bunch and between Marleau and Hainsey, they should be able to provide a good mentorship to this bunch and hopefully make up where they may or may not fall off. It's a pretty good bet by the Maple Leafs,