Leafs sign MacArthur to 2-year, $6.5 million deal


Photo Credit: mapleleafs.nhl.com

Announced just fifteen minutes before the arbitration deadline, Clarke MacArthur will be in Blue and White for the next two seasons at $3.25 million per annum (the updated cap situation is available here, with the Leafs now at roughly $7.34 million in cap space with Schenn and Bozak left to sign).

It seems the talk from Brian Burke about going to arbitration and “re-evaluating” if the settlement was too high was a bit of a negotiating tactic to get this deal done before it went before an arbitrator. The talk for months was about Burke’s unwillingness to go above three million a season for this player, but a return to Toronto is what both sides wanted and was accomplished with a little compromise (and perhaps som consideration for the new cap climate). ‘Mac in the USSR’ is back and what was a pleasant surprise of a season in 2010-11 has become the expectation for Clarke heading into 2011-12.

The contract seems like a reasonable sum given Clarke’s output last year and the fact that Ville Leino – an adequate but overpaid comparable – is getting $4,500,000 from the Buffalo Sabres for the next six years under an ever-increasing cap ceiling.

The money and term both qualify as fair in my books. Two years is just enough time for MacArthur to prove he’s a legitimate top six NHL player and, based on what we heard from Loiselle, the money involved would most likely stayed relatively unchanged had Clarke filed for arbitration.

Knowing that, there are two reasons for Leafs fans to be happy about how this went down. First, the contract is a good indication of how much Burke really values MacArthur (he went above 3 mil.). Secondly, the deal was reached before MacArthur filed for arbitration, which says something about his relationship with the Maple Leafs. Now it’s up to him to prove Burke right.

From MLHS’ Nikhil Daljeet:

You can’t forget the non-fiscal benefits of signing Clarke before arbitration. There are many stories about the emotional turmoil that can arise during arbitration, as a player’s best traits but also most significant shortcomings are made clear in these proceedings.  When you couple this with the fact that MacArthur is known to do best in a positive environment with the right support (according to Lindy Ruff and acted upon rather successfully by Wilson and Burke), it was a great move by Burke to keep the motivational ties between organization and player strong and untarnished.  Clarke should come back with the fire he displayed this season and you can’t deny Burke’s focus on the right dressing room mentality and proper character is well represented at all levels of his club.  The Leafs are one of the more cohesive groups right now in this league (especially considering the mishmash of signings and trades that have been happening) and this can only help them.