Patrick Marleau Trade a Necessary Evil for Leafs to Re-Sign Mitch Marner

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 23: Patrick Marleau #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on during the third period of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Maple Leafs 5-1.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven | Maddie Meyer

The Toronto Maple Leafs made big news on Saturday, as they traded forward Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes. Toronto also added a conditional first-round pick and seventh-round pick in the 2020 Draft in exchange for a sixth-round pick.

They may have given up quite a bit to get Marleau off the books and free up $6.5 million in cap space, but it was something that general manager Kyle Dubas needed to do if he wants a chance to bring back any of their three restricted free agents, including right winger Mitch Marner.

Harner, who played in all 82 games and racked up 94 points, is a top-notch center for the Leafs. However, the 22-year-old is looking to get paid in a big way and is looking for somewhere in the range of $11 million a season.

We are talking about Harner getting paid in the same range as top players Auston Matthews and John Tavares. There's no doubt that Harner is due for a pay increase, but if they pay him that kind of money, roughly 50 percent of their cap will be in four players.

That's not a recipe for success.

Getting rid of Marleau, who is at the ladder stages of his career and is coming off a lackluster season, will improve Toronto's chances of signing Harner or matching any kind of offer sheet.