Yesterday, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano signed a two-year extension to remain in Toronto, an extension that was immediately characterized as being highly team-friendly in nature. It seems that the team-friendly nature of the extension was by design and by the request of Giordano himself. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the original deal between Giordano and Toronto was “around” $1MM AAV, but Giordano preferred to sign at around $200K lower than that offer in order to allow the Maple Leafs “go out and do something else to help [them] win.”
While $200,000 may seem like a relatively small amount within the grand scale of the NHL’s salary structure, one has to remember that it is a significant amount of money for any person. For Giordano to reportedly forgo that amount of money, a sum that he has rightfully earned with his play in Toronto, in order for his team to have a little extra wiggle room to add players is an incredibly generous gesture. Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said as much, referencing a “tremendous sacrifice” in Giordano’s contract negotiation process. The Maple Leafs have serious designs on competing for a Stanley Cup in the near future, and it now is evident that at least one of their players has quite literally bought into that vision.
Now, for some other notes regarding the league’s Eastern Conference teams:
- The Penguins recently extended forward Bryan Rust on a six-year deal worth just over $5MM per year. Today, Penguins GM Ron Hextall had some other news regarding Rust, stating that the forward had undergone a “clean-up” surgery. Hextall downplayed the importance of the operation, stating that it was only a minor procedure and that Rust will be ready for the start of next season. Given the amount the team has now invested in Rust and his health, it’s important for Rust to be on the right health footing at the start of next season so the Penguins can hit the ground running on their next chance to win a Stanley Cup.
- With the pending unrestricted free agencies of Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin looming, some believe that next season could be a transitional one for the Penguins, where they perhaps take a small step back from true contention in order to re-tool and extend their overall competitive window. Today, Hextall spoke on that idea and clarified the direction of the Penguins franchise. He stated, as relayed by Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that the team is going to “continue on trying to win the Stanley Cup,” and that their new owners, Fenway Sports Group, are “totally on board” with this all-in approach. Despite the contract uncertainty of Malkin and Letang, two players Hextall deemed “generational,” it looks as though the Penguins will not be embarking on the re-tool some fans believe they need and instead will be doubling down on their chance to win a Stanley Cup with their current core.