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.