Patrick Marleau is officially a free agent.
The Carolina Hurricanes announced Thursday that the team has bought out the veteran winger, who was traded by the Maple Leafs on Saturday along with a first-round draft pick in order for Toronto to shed his $6.25 million salary.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun adds the Hurricanes were unable to convince Marleau to play for them next season.
Since Marleau signed his contract after the age of 35, the Hurricanes will still absorb his full cap hit, paying him his $3 million signing bonus now and dividing his $833,333 salary over the next two seasons. He will not count against the team's cap in 2020-21.
"Everything is based on that - family. I wanted to kind of be with them," Marleau told NHL.com on Monday. "Our one son, it's based on his schooling and what was best for him. It was at the point where my wife and kids were planning on coming back (to California) already. It kind of ties it all together. Hard to explain it all. Basically, for the kids schooling and stuff we thought we could get the help and support we needed here. With four boys it's a little bit easier here with family around for my wife."
He added he wasn't sure whether the Hurricanes would buy him out, but added he believed next season may not be his last in the league.
"We'll see what happens," Marleau said. "I'll leave that to my representatives and the Hurricanes to discuss.
"I could see myself playing beyond this next year. I still feel really good and I still feel I can contribute. Last year wasn't a very good year by my standards, so I'm looking forward to proving that wrong. That kind of gets the adrenaline going. You have to prove yourself year after year. I look forward to doing that this year."
Marleau, a veteran of 21 NHL seasons, scored 16 goals and added 21 assists in 82 games during the 2018-19 regular season and added a pair of assists in seven playoff games.
The native of Aneroid, Sask., has appeared in 1,657 career NHL games between San Jose and Toronto, recording 551 goals and 615 assists.