Toronto Maple Leafs 2024 Free Agency Targets Miss The Mark, So Far

The Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Brad Treliving have been very active in the early days of free agency,
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages
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Chris Tanev, RHD

Contract: Six-years, $4.5 million AAV

There seemed to be a group of five or six legitimate top-four defensemen that were entering free agency.

Brady Skjei, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Matt Roy, Brett Pesce, and Sean Walker. The Leafs decided to get ahead of the market by acquiring the negotiating rights to Tanev. It was reported soon after that the team would look to sign Tanev to a long-term contract in order to keep his AAV down. 

The result: A whopping six-year deal carrying a $4.5 million caphit. When looking at most of the players listed above, the AAV comes in below market value but at the cost of signing a 34-year-old injury prone defenseman to a contract that takes him until he is 40.

Over the past two seasons, he has missed 24 games of action due to injury and as I mentioned, he has a long history beyond that. 

It is heavily speculated that by the end of the contract Tanev will likely be lounging on the beaches of “Robidas Island”. However, NHL insider Frank Seravalli seemed to indicate on twitter that the league may be closely monitoring contracts that are signed with this expectation.

It would be hard to prove intent in this case but it is something to keep in mind.

In the meantime, the Leafs should be getting one of the games best shutdown defenders to likely pair with Morgan Rielly. It is a good gamble to make but how quickly he declines will be the deciding factor on whether or not this contract ages poorly.

Overall, I like the signing and think it is a good “all-in” move.