Marleau Dilemma

This past Friday we learned via Pierre LeBrun from TSN that the Toronto Maple Leafs were in trade talks with the Los Angeles Kings involving Leafs forward Patrick Marleau. Although talks between the two teams has begun, a deal doesn’t look imminent. On the Saturday night edition of Hockey Night in Canada we learned from Nick Kypreos that Marleau’s family is moving back to northern California and that this is the reason for Marleau agreeing to waive his No Movement Clause. Kypreos also stated that teams like Arizona or Colorado could also be possible destinations for Marleau.

If we take a look at the structure of Marleau’s contract, it would make more sense for the Kings or any other team to wait until after July 1st as this is when half of Marleau’s $3 Million signing bonus is to be paid out. Even though his salary cap hit is $6.25 Million, the actual amount of salary owed to Marleau is $4.25 Million. After the Maple Leafs pay him the $1.5 Million on July 1st, whichever team Marleau gets traded to will only have to pay him $2.75 Million in actual salary.

Let’s take a look at the three teams that have been mentioned and see how Patrick Marleau fits in to each team and what the Maple Leafs could possibly get in return.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings will be coached by Marleau’s former coach from San Jose Todd McLellan, so both player and coach would already know what to expect from each other. Then there’s the Kings salary cap situation. According to capfriendly.com the Kings have $11,728,106 in salary cap space for next season and have no big contract signings looming. Adding Marleau’s $6.25 Million cap hit would still leave the Kings with just under $5.5 Million, but it’s most likely that LA would want Toronto to take back at least one player making over $1 Million to give them a little more flexibility. The player which Toronto takes back would depend on how much cap space Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas is looking to save.

By trading Marleau the Maple Leafs would be very thin on Left Wing, so the player that makes the most sense for Toronto to take back would be LW Kyle Clifford. Just like Patrick Marleau, Clifford only has one year left on his current contract. Clifford has a cap hit of $1.6 Million which would be very helpful to Toronto GM Kyle Dubas. The 28 year old Clifford is from Ayr, Ontario which is located just south of Kitchener, so he would be another local boy coming home to play for the Maple Leafs. The other upside to Kyle Clifford is his size (6’2 – 211Lbs) which is something Toronto lacked a lot of last season.

Arizona Coyotes

If the Maple Leafs were to trade Marleau to Arizona they would most definitely need to take back a player with more than $3 Million in cap space as Arizona only has $8,615,557 for next season according to capfriendly.com. The player I believe would be the most attractive to Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is defenseman Jason Demers. Demers is a Right Handed Defenseman which is something the Maple Leafs have been looking for since last summer. The 30 year old Demers has two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $3,937,500 which would give GM Kyle Dubas just over $2.3 Million in cap space.

Colorado Avalanche

The biggest reason that Colorado is a good trade partner for Toronto regarding Patrick Marleau is the fact that Colorado has $37 Million in cap space for next season. The Avalanche would need a contract like Marleau’s $6.25 Million cap hit to help the team reach the cap floor limit. Marleau’s presence in Colorado would be similar to the one he’s had in Toronto and that’s to be a leader both on and off the ice. Colorado only has three players at the age of 30 or older and having a guy like Marleau on their team to help the younger players would be beneficial.

Since the Avalanche have so much cap space it’s likely that GM Kyle Dubas wouldn’t need to take back any players with significant amounts of salary. The player which I see as the most attractive would be 27 year old Mark Alt from St. Paul, Minnesota. Mark only has one season left on his contract with a cap hit of $725,000 and he’s a big (6’4 – 205Lbs) RHD that would add size and depth to both the Toronto Maple Leafs & Toronto Marlies. He could be used as a stop gap for one season while giving RHD Timothy Liljegren one more season to develop with the Toronto Marlies.

Looks like this summer will be a very interesting one for Toronto GM Kyle Dubas. Patrick Marleau could end up being just one of many dominoes to fall in the Maple Leafs off season.

Jeremy Ridgewell

34 Years Old Lives in Toronto Been married for 10 Years and have 1 child

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