Toronto Maple Leafs: Where Does Patrick Marleau Fit Into Lineup

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 04: Patrick Marleau
SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 04: Patrick Marleau /

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced the signing of left wing Patrick Marleau to a three-year contract worth an AAV of $6.25 million.

With the addition of Marleau and the Maple Leafs depth at wing, what does that do to the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup?

Many thought the Toronto Maple Leafs were going into free agency looking for a big name defenseman signing.  Instead, on the day after free agency starts, the Maple Leafs made their big name signing. Patrick Marleau will be wearing a jersey other than the San Jose Sharks for the first time in his NHL career.

With Marleau, the Maple Leafs get a dependable veteran presence. Marleau has a total of 508 goals and 574 assists for 1082 points in 1493 career games. In his 20 NHL seasons, Marleau has only missed the playoffs twice, totaling 68 goals and 52 assists for 120 points in 177 playoff games.

Where does Marleau fit into the Maple Leafs lineup and who will we see either be sent down to the Marlies or traded as a result?

SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 22: Patrick Marleau
SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 22: Patrick Marleau /

Which Line Does Marleau Play On?

Marleau is a left-winger and would take one of the spots held by either James van Riemsdyk, Leo Komarov, Zach Hyman or Matt Martin.

Marleau could fit in well on a line with Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown and take Komarov’s spot. The line is used primarily to shut down the opponent’s top line and Komarov is much better defensively than Marleau.  Komarov has been effective with Kadri in the shutdown role and wouldn’t make sense to replace him.

TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 1: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 1: Auston Matthews /

The thought of a line of Marleau, Auston Matthews and William Nylander has a lot of Maple Leaf fans salivating. Marleau would be considered an upgrade over Hyman but it would be hard to imagine separating Matthews from his consistent linemate during last season.

. Hyman represents the type of player that isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty in order to get the puck.  He’s the defensive presence on that line. While Marleau and Matthews might find each other as linemates, it might be a more one-off temporary case instead of permanent.

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JVR is a skilled forward but a line of Marleau with Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner could produce even more offence for the Maple Leafs. Marleau is a better defensive player than JVR and would give Marner more time with the puck and any extra time Marner has with the puck gives the Maple Leafs more offensive chances.

Marleau will still be able to be the big body to the net and park out front of the goalie on the powerplay that JVR is but won’t be afraid to get dirty in the corner and finish his checks. JVR is a hard to replace, Marleau’s best fit is with Bozak and Marner.

Toronto Maple leafs
TORONTO,ON – FEBRUARY 21: James van Riemsdyk /

What Happens to JVR?

As effective as JVR has been for the Leafs, I see the Marleau signing as a bridge to a temporary solution. JVR will become a UFA at the end of the upcoming season and the Maple Leafs will have to start shelling out the big money contracts.  Marleau represents a player that could fill JVR’s role in the interim until the young trio becomes more experienced and start taking up the majority of the salary cap.

While JVR might be a better option to either Komarov, Hyman or Martin, they come a cheaper, short-term contracts. In return, the Maple Leafs might be able to use JVR as trade bait to get some more help on the blue line. It almost worked and got Hamonic.

Next: Marleau Overpaid, but Necessary

With the addition of Marleau, it gives Lou an extra consistent 25-30 goal scorer into his tackle box of assets. Let’s see the fish it’ll catch.