The Toronto Maple Leafs put their newly opened cap space to use, re-signing Tyler Bozak and signing David Clarkson to long-term deals today. Bozak’s deal is for five years worth $4.2-million per season, and Clarkson’s is for seven years at $5.2-million per. Clarkson’s deal includes a limited no-trade and no-movement clause.
After putting Mikhail Grabovski on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying his contract out yesterday, the Leafs continued to part ways with players who obviously didn’t mesh well with head coach Randy Carlyle last season. The latest casualty is Clarke MacArthur, who signed with the provincial rival Ottawa Senators for two years at $3.25-million per.
None of the events today were really surprising. Rumours were rampant from the moment the Leafs were knocked out of the playoffs that Clarkson’s desire was to play for his hometown team. General manager Dave Nonis was more than willing to oblige, rewarding the one-time 30-goal scorer handsomely. Clarkson fills a hole in the Leafs’ top-six of forwards, projecting to line up alongside Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri this year.
Clarkson will bring grit, physicality, and actually some pretty solid possession abilities to their forward ranks. Clarkson led all New Jersey Devils’ forwards in Corsi percentage (on-ice shot differential) last season, and was a positive Corsi player the two seasons before that as well. If he can keep up with Kadri and Lupul, there might be a fit there.
When you look at Clarkson’s contract details, that’s when the alarm bells start ringing. He’ll be 36 by the time this onerous deal expires, and obviously won’t be worth anything close to the $5.25-million he’s set to earn that year. Heck, Clarkson isn’t even close to being worth that much right now as a 29-year-old.
He’s being rewarded for one 30-goal season in which he benefitted from a 13.2 shooting percentage. He’s being rewarded for a 15-goal season last year in which he scored 11 of those goals in the first half of the season, then fell of a cliff production-wise. And I guess he’s being rewarded for being a “Randy Carlyle-type player” which basically means “he punches people in the face once in a while”.
As for Tyler Bozak, he is who he is. He’s a 27-year-old whose career-high is 47 points playing alongside one of the best wingers in the game in Phil Kessel. As Tyler Dellow showed yesterday, he makes every single player around him worse. But again, it seems Carlyle has a soft part in his heart for Bozie, and like it or not, he’ll be around for a long time.
We’re only two-and-a-half hours into Free Agent Frenzy Day, and Nonis and Co. has already caused quite the stir in Leafs Nation. He still needs to find at least one defenseman to help their dreary back-end, so be on the lookout for that. There’s also a boatload of RFAs (who include Kadri, Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson and Joe Colborne) he needs to re-sign, so expect him to be plenty busy for the next few weeks figuring all that stuff out. There’s never a dull day in Leafs Nation.