According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Los Angeles Kings have discussed a deal that would help bail the Leafs out of their recent salary-cap hell by sending Patrick Marleau to Los Angeles.
Hearing the Leafs and Kings have talked about a potential Patrick Marleau trade. Obviously there’s the Todd McLellan connection there for Marleau so he might waive. But as of now I don’t think the two teams have found a fit. Kings would need to unload a contract or two as well...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 31, 2019
The Maple Leafs face a daunting task this summer, as they look to retain Mitchell Marner, Andreas Johansson, and Kasperi Kapanen while shoring up their defense. However, the $8.8 million left in cap space might not even be enough for the Leafs to retain Marner alone; in fact, Darren Dreger recently reported that 23-year-old restricted free agent (RFA) would likely meet with suitors in the negotiating window opening June 26.
The prospect of losing key components of their core has caused the team to look for potential trade partners for Mike Babcock favorites Nikita Zaitsev (who independently and conveniently requested a trade days ago) and Patrick Marleau, who take up a combined $10.75 million against the cap.
LeBrun states that Marleau might be open to waiving his no-trade clause for Los Angeles, which can offer him both a reunion with former San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan and a chance to return to California, where his family still maintains roots. However, any move would be greatly complicated by Los Angeles’ need to send a contract back to avoid a similar situation, as they try to re-sign their own pending RFAs Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe while improving a squad that finished 30th in the league this year.
Marleau has a year left on his contract at $6.25 million, but the soon-to-be 40-year-old forward’s decline accelerated greatly this season, as he notched 16 goals and 37 points over 82 games. On the face of it, the thought of any team even entertaining a trade for him would seem ludicrous. Stranger things have happened, though; long-time Sharks fans might recall the Marleau-to-the-Kings scare that happened in 2009, where San Jose reportedly had a three-team-trade with the Kings and the Ottawa Senators that would have seen San Jose acquire Dany Heatley, Ottawa acquire Alexander Frolov and Jarret Stoll and Los Angeles acquire Marleau in his prime.
While a trade with the Leafs now would probably weaken Los Angeles further, as Marleau is likelier to hurt a team with his on-ice play rather than help them, watching the Sharks legend pull on the Kings’ black sweater would be too painful for a fanbase who might also see franchise icons Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski depart this summer.
Here’s hoping we avoid the darkest timeline.