Toronto Maple Leafs Reportedly Shopping Patrick Marleau

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 15: Patrick Marleau #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs heads to the ice before facing the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Arena on April 15, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 15: Patrick Marleau #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs heads to the ice before facing the Boston Bruins in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scotiabank Arena on April 15, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

In what is expected to be an offseason of significant change, the Toronto Maple Leafs are wasting no time getting the ball rolling.

The past 24 hours sure have been a hectic bunch for those in Leafs Land.

First, there was yesterday’s Fedor Gordeev news, as reports began to surface in the mid-afternoon which stated that the former 2017 5th-rounder will be allowed to re-enter this year’s draft after being declined an ELC by the Maple Leafs prior to the June 1st deadline, which was then quickly followed up by Toronto actually trading his signing rights to the Minnesota Wild for a conditional 7th round draft pick in 2020.

A few hours later, word that Nikita Zaitsev had requested a trade filtered out. These reports, in a surprising twist, indicated that the defenceman was seeking a fresh start after a difficult past season in Toronto, and would welcome a move out of town.

Which now brings us to today’s bombshell, the biggest of them all.

Yes, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Maple Leafs are indeed conducting trade discussions centring around ageing forward, Patrick Marleau.

A Marleau trade has been generally thought of as impossible for quite some time by those who follow the team. The 39-year-old is due to count for a whopping $6.5 million against the Maple Leafs’ salary cap next year, and given how steep his production dropped off this past season, such a price is one the Leafs simply cannot afford in their current position.

Even when operating with the knowledge that Marleau will be due a signing bonus of $3 million on July 1st – leaving only $1.25 million in actual dollars owed to him for the remainder of the year – he will still represent his full $6.5 million in the context of any team’s cap structure, regardless.

That is a tough pill to swallow for any team, let alone one ready to contend.

Not to mention, Marleau’s contract includes the fabulous kicker of a full No-Move Clause. This makes the process of facilitating a transaction of such complexity all the more difficult, as doing so is not a matter of simply shuttling him out of town to the first available bidder.

Marleau is armed with the power to veto any trade that the Maple Leafs attempt to include him in. It’s a right which Leafs management afforded to him in the contract they gave him. And considering how Marleau has a young family with whom he moved across the continent of North American in order to join the Leafs a mere two years ago, there’s a very good chance that he may not want to relocate at all.

It is for these reasons – and the fact that his performance has all but sapped any independent trade value – that news of the Maple Leafs having concrete discussions about Marleau with another NHL team is so eye-popping. Whereas such a thought would have been scoffed at weeks ago, there is now a legitimate chance that this actually happens.

And while Toronto will likely need to take on one of the Kings’ own albatross contracts in order to facilitate it, the cost associated with the returning asset will almost certainly fail to eclipse the $6.5 million following Marleau out the door.

The Maple Leafs are in a cap crunch. That much we know for sure. And when dealing with a cap crunch, every single little bit of wiggle room makes a chasm of difference. Moving Marleau out would do exactly that, and could even signal the difference between allowing Kyle Dubas to retain his crop of pending RFAs, or letting the team’s financial restrictions force him into watching one go.

Regardless, these talks will be monitored closely over the coming weeks, particularly in the lead-up to this year’s draft. For if this situation is as legitimate as the reports of today paint it to be, the Maple Leafs could look markedly different before free agency even opens.

Next. Maple Leafs Won't Sign Three Mark Hunter Picks. dark

Thanks for reading!