The Toronto Maple Leafs have completed a deal that seemed impossible just a few days ago, trading Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes. Toronto will also send a conditional 2020 first-round selection and a 2020 seventh-round selection and will receive a 2020 sixth-round pick in return. If the first-round pick is a top-10 selection, the Hurricanes will instead receive a first-round pick in 2021.
Marleau is expected to be bought out by the Hurricanes to become an unrestricted free agent. A buyout will not result in any cap savings for the Hurricanes given Marleau signed his current contract after the age of 35, meaning his entire $6.25MM hit will be applied to their books.
The Maple Leafs were desperate to clear some salary this summer thanks to ongoing negotiations with restricted free agents Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and Marleau’s name has been in trade speculation for weeks. GM Kyle Dubas had recently said however that it seemed likely the veteran forward would start the year in Toronto, meaning this deal very well could have come together quickly at the draft in Vancouver. A first round pick is a steep price to pay, but the Maple Leafs will gain a huge amount of cap space in a season where they believe they can compete for the Stanley Cup.
Marleau, 39, just finished his worst offensive season since his rookie year back in 1997-98, but still recorded 16 goals and 37 points for the Maple Leafs. While not good enough to fill those $6.25MM shoes, he still does have a few playing days left in him if he chooses. Though that could technically take him back to Toronto as the Washington Capitals proved with Brooks Orpik last year, Marleau commandeered his wife’s twitter account to issue a goodbye to the organization and Maple Leafs’ fans. It seems more likely that he is heading back to California and perhaps the San Jose Sharks, though the Hurricanes intend on having a conversation to see if he would be willing to play for them first.
The veteran forward hasn’t missed a single game in the last ten seasons and has suited up 1,657 times in the NHL regular season. His 1,166 career points put him 53rd on the all-time list, only behind Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin in terms of active players.