The Toronto Maple Leafs finished off their 2013 season in the most painful fashion possible, blowing a big lead in the third-period to the Boston Bruins in a Game 7 loss. Then Mikhail Grabovski fled in free agency, presumably to be replaced by trade acquisition Dave Bolland. Clarke MacArthur represents another major departed piece of the puzzle.
Now the Maple Leafs are throwing many of their eggs in one basket via free agency, signing David Clarkson, the New Jersey Devils‘ leading scorer in 2013, to a seven-year, $36.75 million deal. Clarkson has the endorsement of longtime Maple Leafs great Wendel Clark on his side.
“I haven’t got that talent,” Clark said, via the team website. “He brings all parts of the game. It’s not a one-dimensional game. Whatever game you want to play, that’s how he’ll play it. If it’s going to be a physical night, he’s there. If it’s part of putting the puck in the net, he’s there. If it gets even rougher on a different night … Dave can play every part of the game, no matter which way the game goes.”
Toronto also bolstered their forward spot with the re-signing of center Tyler Bozak for a cool $21 million over five years.
“We’re pretty happy with our top nine [forwards],” Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said, via NHL.com. “We’ll be pretty competitive. I think our fourth line will be very hard to play against. I can tell you our coach [Randy Carlyle] is very happy with the options that we have right now. He’s a mixer and matcher of lines and players and he’s happy with what we’ve done so far.”
While the Clarkson signing cost quite a bit, he could be that final piece that makes this Maple Leafs group of forwards among the best in 2013-2014.