The Toronto Maple Leafs signed free-agent Patrick Marleau on Sunday. The terms of the deal, according to Spotrac, is three years and $18.75M. That averages out to $6.25M per year for the veteran forward that has spent his entire NHL career to date as a member of the San Jose Sharks. As he was a member of that franchise since the 1997/98 season, San Jose will certainly look much different without Marleau.

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Marleau is in his late 30s and declining

The Maple Leafs have acquired the forward at what could only be called the tail-end of his career. The days when the 37-year old was good for about 0.75 points per game may be history. In his last three seasons with the Sharks he appeared in 246 games and had 151 points, which works out to 0.61 points per game. He has been on a steady decline over the last four years with 70 points, 57 points, 48 points, and 46 points respectively.

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An iron man in the NHL, Marleau can be counted on to not miss action. However, when you are spending $6.25M on a player per season it's not about playing time, it's about production. His declining numbers have to be attributed to his age and for that reason his production is likely to get worse, not better.

Toronto may have made a mistake with the deal

The Toronto Maple Leafs might have signed a ghost in signing Marleau and, in offering $6.25M a year, they may have handcuffed themselves a bit.

It's certainly hard to picture Marleau helping to make the Leafs a major contender. Conversely, if his numbers continue to decline little by little, then his salary might block the Leafs from getting more depth. You can start to talk about having a veteran presence in the locker room, but there are guys that are cheaper if that's what you think the Leafs need. Furthermore, veteran leadership has ambiguous effects: when you are spending the kind of money that Toronto offered then you want something measurable.

Following the last two days of signings, the Maple Leafs remain a middle-favorite in terms of betting odds. Marathon Bet make the Leafs +2500 to win the Stanley Cup, with more than a dozen teams priced shorter than that. With Marleau, Leafs fans will certainly see a name associated with talent. However, Marleau got the best of this contract with Toronto's hopes not really improving but maybe even taking a bit of a hit.

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They will need some production out of Marleau that is uncharacteristic of what he has done in the last three seasons for what they are going to spend to really pay off.

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