The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed impending free agent Joffrey Lupul to a five-year contract extension. As per Darren Dreger, the contract will have a limited no trade clause in which the Leafs will have a list of 14 teams to work with when they eventually need to jettison this deal. The deal will see him paid $5.25M per year and make him and James van Riemsdyk the only Leafs signed that long. Mikhail Grabovski's deal goes through 2016-17. There had been some hope that Lupul would possibly be traded at the deadline depending on how results panned out to take advantage of the high perceived value of him after a renaissance which saw him go from perceived salary dump to top line left winger.
The signing leaves the Leafs with $47M committed to 13 players for next season and probably indicates that the core of this team will be kept together for the next handful of season. Phil Kessel will be a UFA after the 2013-14 season as will Dion Phaneuf
and Clarke MacArthur (Correction: MacArthur is UFA this July 1st) This is a huge gamble that he and Kessel will continue to provide elite offence and presumably that his signing long-term will induce Phil to stick around. That worked out great when the Raptors signed all of Vince Carter's friends to make him stay and be happy.
#19 / Right Wing / Toronto Maple Leafs
Sep 23, 1983
Current Contract: $4.25M through 2013 Season
New Contract: $5.25M though 2017-18 Season
|Leafs Statistics||GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||PPG||SHG||GWG||Charity Initiatives||SOG||PCT|
|Joffrey Lupul||95||34||51||85||-6||67||10||0||4||Lupe's Troops||270||12.6|
The deal moved quickly as the Leafs only recently announced the launch of Lupe's Troops which signalled that he was one of the faces of the franchise. And that he was also named an alternate captain. That should make the local mittenstringers happy as they no longer have to only depend on the taciturn Dion Phaneuf or the shy Phil Kessel for the meat of their stories. On Friday there was news that the two camps had been negotiating and Chemmy, among others, wondered why the Leafs wouldn't wait for the season to play out a bit more to see if Lupul could at least maintain his scoring for more than one season. They did have an exclusive negotiating window until July 1, 2013 where they could have evaluated his performance.
If Lupul and Kessel are to be the team's top pair of wingers then they will need to find a way to keep them from being possession black holes. Some improvement may come from them although it will likely be to the detriment of their offensive production. However, the most obvious solution, as it has been since day one, will be to find them a defensively responsible centre. Tyler Bozak is an unrestricted free agent this summer and while he does fit in on the line in the sense that he doesn't mess plays up. The other approach will be for the Leafs to build their defensive options and to match lines assiduously to ensure that they are facing weaker competition as often as possible.
Early reaction to the signing on Twitter ranges from "Congratulations to Leaf fans on locking up a replacement for the Komisarek contract." from Dellow to the following:
Well, the mainstream media is on board with Lupul's new contract.— Timo Seppa (@timoseppa) January 20, 2013
@steveburtch His on-ice SH% was 10.7% too so it's unlikely his assist rate goes anywhere but down.— Fear The Fin (@fearthefin) January 20, 2013
Dislike the trend of the Leafs signing non-elite players Lupul and Liles into their mid-30s.— Dr. Aglikepull (@draglikepull) January 20, 2013
If Toronto is such a more desirable market to play in why do they consistently have to pay full market-plus value to retain players?— Don in Oakville (@Don_inOakville) January 20, 2013
Thought: Nonis knows Lupul’s value won’t be $5.25mil in 5 years, but thinks it’s above $5.25mil now & is basically splitting the difference.— Dr. Aglikepull (@draglikepull) January 20, 2013
The deal is apparently front-loaded for what it's worth so that gives Draglikepull's theory some credence. Perhaps this becomes the mythical deal that cap floor teams will want in the future. Otherwise, this should put to rest the worry that Carlyle doesn't get along with his former Ducks player and probably adds more fuel to the fire that Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry will be coming to Toronto. I know Clarke MacArthur was also named an alternate captain but it's getting hard to see where exactly he is going to fit long-term especially if he has a good season. Regardless, the deal is likely too many dollars, with too little information, and for too long of a term. The issue is that the Leafs aren't playing the percentages. Players start to decline in their early thirties but maybe Lupul's post-injury dedication to fitness helps him combat that. He has only played 95 games as a Leaf so maybe 48 more give a little bit better of a picture of his future but the Leafs didn't wait to see what he does with those games. Let's hope the Leafs get lucky. For now, at least Lupul's happy:
Thrilled to be a Maple Leaf for 5 more years. Look forward to doing everything I can to help bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto.— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) January 20, 2013