Patrick Marleau is old. Not quite Jaromir Jagr old, but in an NHL that is increasingly young, age is important.
That’s why it was so shocking Sunday when the Maple Leafs said they had convinced the 37-year-old Marleau, after 19 seasons with the Sharks, to ditch the Bay Area and finish his Hall of Fame career with a franchise that has won one playoff series since 2004. He doesn’t need them and they don’t really need him. Auston Matthews was 14 days old when Marleau made his NHL debut Oct. 1, 1997, and the Leafs’ ascent was already well underway without him.
On the surface, committing $6.25 million annually over the next three seasons to a graybeard seems counterintuitive and a risk not worth taking.
I think I’ve worn out a few carpets pacing around the house trying to make this decision over the last couple of days, Marleau said on a brief conference call with reporters after the deal was announced.
The Vancouver Canucks wasted no time adding free-agent talent Saturday, reportedly reaching deals with center Sam Gagner, defenseman Michael Del Zotto and goaltender Anders Nilsson. TSN reports Gagner and the Canucks have agreed to a three-year deal worth $3.15 million annually. The center tied a career high with 18 goals and scored 50 points last season for the Blue Jackets. Del Zotto’s deal is reportedly for two years at $3 million per year. He scored 18 points in 51 games with the Flyers last season. The 27-year-old Nilsson, who posted a 10-10-4 record with the Buffalo Sabres last season with a 2.67 goals against average, has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $2.5 million per year deal.