Damien Cox at the Star broke a big story this morning: the Leafs have apparently inked Tucker to a three (or four) year deal at about $3M per year.
It will be interesting to see what the actual terms of the contract are when MLSE makes it official. My understanding of the CBA is that option years are prohibited, so I’m not sure how the fourth year might be structured.
I don’t think $3M is out of line and a three year term is preferable to anything longer, but I would have liked JFJ to move Tucker* for picks and prospects. Unfortunately, such a deal would certainly throw a wrench into JFJ’s apparent need to make the post-season in order to keep his job. While another first round pick would be a great thing for this club to have and would certainly be in line with JFJ’s build-from-within-plan (if such a plan actually existed) it will be years before that pick can bang in a cross-crease pass on the power play and that’s what really seems to matter to MLSE with 20 games left to go this season.
*Why move Tucker? Here are 10 good reasons:
- He’s a small man playing a big man’s role and he’s on the wrong side of 30 (32 next month actually). How long before his body starts to break down?
- In 12 NHL seasons, he’s only played the full schedule twice
- He's not much of a penatly killer, he’s weak at 5 on 5 (he’s -64 for his career) - what the heck do you do with him and the monster contract it’s going to take to keep him when his hands start to go?
- Since coming to the Leafs he’s averaged 19.8 goals a season (not including this injury shortened year). I’m not knocking 20 goals, but $3.5M+ and a non-trade or a no-movement clause is way too much to pay for that level of performance (interesting that many only want O’Neill and his 20 goals back at his current salary but they’ll pay double for Tucker)
- The team hasn’t suffered in his absence. With Tucker in the line-up the Leafs are 18-16-5 that's a .526 winning percentage; without Tucker they’re 10-7-3 a .650 winning percentage
- In 62 playoff games, Tucker has 10 goals and is a -5. Somehow if this team makes the post-season, I don't think that level of performance is going to be the difference between hoisting the Cup and going home early.
- If Nagy’s eight goals are worth a first rounder and a player, Tucker has to be worth more, lots more.
- If the Leafs really can’t live without Tucker, let’s learn from some of the other GMs and do what the Blues and Penguins managed to do with Weight and Recchi – deal them at the deadline and sign them back in the off-season.
- This team missed the playoffs last year and is on the bubble this year. In a hard cap environment with $19 million tied up (and seemingly unmovable) on D, I really don’t see how the team can commit $3.5 to $4M for Tucker and hope to get better next year.
- This year’s UFA crop is rich in forwards, the club would be better off allocating Peca’s $2.5M and Tucker’s $3.5M to someone who can pick up the crown and lead this club once Mats calls it quits.