Chris Tanev is excited about defence partnership with Morgan Rielly

Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
12 days ago
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving got his man as Chris Tanev signed a six-year contract worth an average annual value of $4.5 million on Monday, ahead of the official free agency period. Tanev was acquired on Saturday, effectively buying Treliving a window for exclusive negotiation, before signing the 34-year-old standout to a long-term pact.
The new contract includes a full no-movement clause through the duration of the deal and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that 80 percent of Tanev’s new deal is enveloped in bonuses.
Tanev is a Toronto-born stalwart who was a late bloomer as a teenager, then quietly became one of the NHL’s best defensive defencemen with elite shot-blocking ability and zone exits. He’ll almost certainly begin the year on Toronto’s top pair alongside Morgan Rielly and told reporters during his introductory press conference via Zoom that he’d be excited to play alongside the team’s longest-tenured player.
The 34-year-old told Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star that he grew up as a Detroit Red Wings fan, as opposed to the Maple Leafs. Tanev played for the Toronto Red Wings, Jr. Canadiens among other AAA teams in the Greater Toronto Hockey League circuit two decades ago, perhaps it makes sense to be inspired the Nicklas Lidstrom-era Red Wings as well! In any event, it’s an atypical hero story for Toronto’s marquee acquisition from this year’s free agency class.
“Talked to him over the last day and a half about his thoughts about playing with me and being a partner, potentially, with me. That can potentially be a good fit. He’s one of those elite players that there’s not many around,” Tanev said of playing with Rielly via TSN’s Mark Masters.
Tanev excelled for the Stars upon being acquired in a trade from the Calgary Flames. Dallas controlled 62 percent of the expected goals when he was on the ice in 19 regular season games, with a 54 percent share during the playoffs via Natural Stat Trick.
“He’s just an elite defensive player. You know, we talk about offensive players seeing plays early. He does the same thing but on the defensive side of the puck,” Treliving said on the weekend upon acquiring Tanev.
“An absolute warrior. He’s a culture carrier for your room. Listen, I know the age he’s at. But I think even in the last year he showed he’s one of the top shutdown defencemen, one of the top defensive players in the league. And he’s a right shot. He embodies everything you want in a teammate.”
Tanev is going to be a major part of the Maple Leafs’ core for the foreseeable future and no matter how the rest of the week plays out, Toronto has its top defense pair locked in for the 2024-25 season and beyond.

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