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‘I think this is the best I’ve played in my career’: Tanev ready to help Maple Leafs


Chris Tanev is happy to be home.

The 34-year-old defenceman hails from Toronto and committed to the Maple Leafs on July 1, inking a six-year, $27 million contract that will likely take him to the end of his career.

The Maple Leafs have been rumoured to be interested in Tanev for years, and general manager Brad Treliving, who originally signed Tanev to a four-year deal to join the Calgary Flames in 2020, dealt for his rights from the Dallas Stars ahead of free agency opening to ensure he would have the best chance to sign the veteran blueliner.

Tanev started his pro career as an undrafted free agent with the Vancouver Canucks where he spent 10 seasons before signing in Calgary. He finished last season with the Stars as a trade-deadline acquisition, helping the team reach the Western Conference Final.

Having spent the majority of his career playing in Canadian cities, Tanev understands the pressure that comes with it and embraces it, especially as Toronto continues to search for solutions to take the next step in the playoffs.

“I enjoy it a lot,” Tanev told OverDrive on Tuesday. “My family enjoys it. Definitely proud to be Canadian and it’s going to be awesome to play for Toronto.

“It comes with high expectations. I think the market here is a lot bigger than Calgary, and Vancouver is probably in the middle between the two. There are so many little steps that you need to achieve as a team to be able to get close to where you want to be at the end of the year.”

Tanev, who is a right-handed shot, is already pencilled in to play on the Maple Leafs’ top pairing next season alongside Morgan Rielly, who has had a revolving door of defence partners during his career in Toronto.

Rielly and Tanev won gold together playing for Canada at the 2016 world championship.

“I played with Morgan at the worlds a couple of years ago and I think we both enjoyed it quite well,” said Tanev. “We had some success, and the team did well. I definitely think we complement each other on and off the ice.”

Signing a 34-year-old to a six-year contract carries a higher risk on whether or not he will play right to the end of the deal. In his earlier days in Vancouver, Tanev had trouble staying healthy and had three seasons in a row where he played just 53, 42 and 55 games respectively.

Since those years, he has been healthier overall and averaged more than 19 minutes of ice time last season.

“I think I’m a lot better player,” said Tanev. “Trainers have done a great job of protecting me in the areas that I was prone to getting hurt in those couple of years. I think I played the most in my career in the last half of this year. I think this is the best I’ve played in my career.”