A rumor several days ago suggested that the Toronto Maple Leafs would like to move on from 39-year-old winger Patrick Marleau, who is coming off a disappointing season this past season. With Toronto’s general manager Kyle Dubas trying to balance multiple players and their contracts into the team’s already full salary cap, the team was expecting more out of Marleau, who posted his worst goal totals (16) since his rookie campaign back in the 1997-98 season.
While many have squashed the rumors that Toronto was trying to send him to the Los Angeles Kings Friday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported late last night during a Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada that Marleau would like to leave Toronto and would prefer to be moved to a west coast team:
It sounds like Marleau and the Maple Leafs are set to part ways. The family is going to move back to San Jose. Patrick Marleau has made it clear to the Toronto Maple Leafs that he’d like to get closer to his family once again, which means moving to the west coast area.
That could make Los Angeles a legitimate candidate, despite reports to the contrary. Kypreos also mentioned the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes as other options for Marleau, while can you never totally rule out a return to San Jose. The original belief is that with a no-movement clause, the Maple Leafs might have had a challenging time finding a trade partner considering he could reject any offer, but it now looks like Marleau will be much more willing to move on from Toronto. Marleau, who will be wrapping up the final year of the three-year, $18.75MM deal he signed back in 2017, will make only make $4.25MM next season, but does carry a $6.25MM AAV. The Maple Leafs would likely have to attach a pick or prospect to any deal to unload Marleau’s contract and might even have to retain salary to make a deal work.
The Avalanche might be one of the best options for Toronto as Colorado should have more than $37MM in available cap space, although the team has a number of important restricted free agents they must re-sign, including winger Mikko Rantanen. However, Marleau could be a veteran presence the Avalanche wouldn’t mind adding for one season. The other teams would require sending another significant contract back to Toronto, perhaps one with a lower AAV, but longer term. The Kings would have to send back a contract and while they might be willing to move on from some players such as forwards Ilya Kovalchuk (two more years at $6.25MM), Dustin Brown (three more years at $5.875MM) or defenseman Dion Phaneuf (two more years at $5.25MM), none of whom would fulfill Dubas’ desire to free up salary cap space. Arizona, which is another team that must deal with salary cap issues starting this off-season, has a few cheaper options and could be an interesting option, including forward Michael Grabner (two more years at $3.35MM) or defenseman Jason Demers (two more years at $3.94MM).