A Patrick Marleau trade looks inevitable

Kyle Dubas’ biggest challenge in his second summer as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs is walking over the tightrope of salary cap hell. Two keys in making his life much, much easier this summer are finding ways to rid himself of Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev’s contracts.

During last night’s Stanley Cup Final game between the Bruins and Blues, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet suggested that the Leafs and Marleau are ready to part ways. Remember, Marleau has a no-movement clause on his deal, so him being ready to move on from the Leafs and accept a trade elsewhere is key in dumping his contract.

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“It sounds like Marleau and the Leafs are set to part ways,” said Nick Kypreos during the ‘Headlines’ segment of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. “The family is going to move back to San Jose. Patrick Marleau has made it clear to the Toronto Maple Leafs that he’d like to get closer to his family once again, which means moving to the west coast area.”

There are a few teams who are supposedly in the conversation to land the veteran forward, including one Californian outfit.

“Some of the teams that are in the mix – I’m told – are Arizona, Colorado [and] the Los Angeles Kings,” Kypreos continued. “Now everybody’s wondering ‘why the Los Angeles Kings?’ … There’d be no question that a type of deal that would have to involve taking on that contract would be, maybe, taking on a current roster player that the Leafs would have to give up, and maybe even retaining as much as maybe $1.5, $2 million.”

We know already that the Leafs and Kings have been talking about a potential Marleau trade, but Kypreos added that Colorado and Arizona are also in the mix for taking on Marleau. The key for Marleau, as Kypreos suggested, is being close to his family, who have moved back to the West Coast.

Marleau owns a $6.5 million cap hit for one more season but his actual salary will be just $1,250,000 for 2019-20. He’s due for a $3,000,000 signing bonus to be paid in two installments, first on July 1 and then later in December. That makes a trade a little more complicated, but I would imagine any deal would come after the July 1 part of the bonus is paid by the Leafs.

There’s a good chance the Leafs will either have to retain a decent chunk of Marleau’s cap hit in order to orchestrate a deal, but even freeing up $3.25 million by eating half of his cap hit would be a big game-changer for Dubas this summer.

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