The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Joffrey Lupul to a five-year contract extension that will reportedly pay the forward an average salary of $5.25M per season. The deal also has a limited no-trade clause and ensures Lupul is locked up through the 2017-18 season. Had he not signed an extension, Lupul would have been eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer as he was in the final year of his contract, which pays him $4.25M for 2012-13.
Lupul came to the Maple Leafs in February of 2011 along with Jake Gardiner for Francois Beauchemin, in what is slowly becoming a lopsided trade. Gardiner looks to be the future face of the franchise and Lupul had a breakout season in 2011-12. The Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta native set a career-high with 67 points and was named an All-Star. Perhaps most importantly, however, he developed a very strong chemistry with sniper Phil Kessel to give the Leafs a legitimate number one line.
Lupul has scored 20 goals or more on four different occasions in his NHL career and can now be viewed as a major piece of the Leafs franchise for years to come. This is Dave Nonis’ first major move after being appointed General Manager a couple of weeks ago, and it appears he is not afraid of making a statement. With the demotion of Tim Connolly and trade of Matthew Lombardi earlier in the week, it appears Nonis and Coach Randy Carlyle plan to re-shape the Toronto’s identity very quickly.