Hayes: Leafs had to trade Marleau but the cost is a disaster
While the focus for the Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend was moving the final season of Patrick Marleau's contract, the 39-year-old isn't sure next season will be the last of his career.
Marleau was traded by the Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday along with a first-round draft pick in order for Toronto to shed his $6.25 million salary. Marleau told NHL.com on Monday that it remains unclear whether or the Hurricanes will buy out the final year of his deal.
"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 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. He expressed his lament on Monday in falling to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs in both his seasons with the Maple Leafs.
"Definitely was frustrating," Marleau said. "Especially this year when we had two chances to clinch the series and move on, and we didn't do it. To fall short especially with the bond we all had with that group of guys, we had such a tight group and we all played for each other. We fell short, but it was still a great experience. And I think it will help light a fire under a lot of guys' butts moving forward and knowing it's not going to be easy. It's going to take that little extra here and there and it's going to take everybody to win those playoff rounds and build off that."
Moving Marleau should bring the Maple Leafs closer to having the cap room to re-sign Mitch Marner, which Marleau was happy to provide.
"Kind of crazy how things work out," Marleau said. "But obviously I think the world of Mitch. He deserves whatever he can get and what he feels is fair and whatever he feels is best for he and his family."
"We've talked at different times about it," he added on Marner's pending restricted free agent status. "Ultimately, it's going to come down to what he decides and what his agent decides. People close to him will have their input but ultimately it'll be about what he decides for himself and his career."
Marleau, a native of Aneroid, Sask., has appeared in 1,657 career NHL games between San Jose and Toronto, recording 551 goals and 615 assists.