On Saturday, June 22nd, just before day two of the 2019 NHL Draft, Patrick Marleau was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes along with a lottery-protected 2020 first-round draft pick and a 2020 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick.
The longest tenured Shark in franchise history agreed to waive his no movement clause with the understanding that those Bunch of Jerks would buy out the final year of his $6.25 million contract, allowing him an opportunity to sign with the San Jose Sharks for a cheaper contract.
Patrick Marleau waives his NMC for trade to Carolina and will be bought out by #hurricanes. He'd like to return to San Jose in free agency.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 22, 2019
Toronto is still in the midst of trying to retain key restricted free agents Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and therefore could not buy out Marleau’s contract, due to the 35+ contract rule that buyouts only open up a roster space and do not offer cap relief. The Sharks, meanwhile, could not absorb the final year of Marleau’s three-year contract in a trade with the Leafs due to their own tenuous cap situation, as they are looking to retain unrestricted and restricted free agents alike in Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi, Joe Thornton, Tim Heed, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Dylan Gambrell and Antti Suomela.
No reasonable amount of sweeteners, such as the lottery-protected 2020 first-round draft pick Carolina received in exchange for obtaining Marleau’s contract (that becomes an unprotected 2021 first-round pick in the unlikely scenario where Toronto fails to make the playoffs in the upcoming season and obtains a top-10 selection), could have incentivized Doug Wilson enough to acquire Marleau directly.
While it was reported that the Hurricanes would attempt to retain Marleau, they were not able to convince him, and the buyout will come on Friday, June 28.
As expected. Hurricanes weren’t able to convince Marleau to play for them. The buyout is expected to happen Friday making Marleau UFA. https://t.co/gsZN4rAQKb— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 27, 2019
Now as a free agent, the near-40 year old has a chance to return to his long-time team for a chance at Lord Stanley’s Cup on a much cheaper contract in order to make it work from San Jose’s perspective.
Given that 1) Marleau wants to keep playing for a chance for a Stanley Cup, 2) San Jose is likely the only team he wants to play for with his family moved back to the Bay Area and his forever home in Saratoga Hills and 3) Marleau will still be paid his full salary from the final year of his contract by the Hurricanes, it is fair to assume that Marleau would be willing to play on a new cheap deal worth somewhere close to the league minimum on a one-year deal. Anything more would simply not be feasible from San Jose’s perspective, and Marleau fully understands this reality. With the league’s salary cap officially set at a limit of $81.5 million, making the money work is the first step.
Should San Jose proceed to sign Marleau as expected, a reduced role on either the third or fourth line with limited minutes seems the most reasonable spot for him.
Look for our beloved Captain Awkward to don the teal and black once again sometime in the next week once free agency period begins July 1.
Stay Gutless, My Friends.