In a day hot with rumours, James Mirtle set the smart tone early:
Leafs biggest weak spot is RD right now. Only Carrick, Zaitsev and Corrado are righties. Expensive to add there via UFA though.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) 1 July 2016
But that didn't stop the men who give their ears to agents:
Matt Martin's continued to receive plenty of interest from number of teams. He'll get a pretty nice raise. Heard Leafs still in mix— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) 1 July 2016
Hearing the #leafs are kicking tires on James Wisniewski. Right-shot defenceman was bought out by CAR yesterday.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) 1 July 2016
I believe the Maple Leafs remain as one of the 4 teams in contention for Kris Russell.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) 1 July 2016
When the reality of Free Agent Frenzy hit at noon, some Leafs fans were worried, mostly that the Leafs would do something less than brilliant. What many fans wanted was for this prophesy to come true:
I think the odds of the #Leafs making a significant trade are greater than making a big free agent signing.— Michael Augello (@MikeInBuffalo) 1 July 2016
But all afternoon there were rumours and fears that this thinking would prevail:
Oilers paid Lucic 42m for McDavid protection. @MapleLeafs willing to pay Martin 4 yrs 12m for Matthews protection? #SigningSeason— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) 1 July 2016
Jason Demers, Kris Russell and the aforementioned Martin were all still un-signed when Justin Smoak was hitting a home run to tie the game at three o'clock.
The game was still tied in the bottom of the eighth when the word came down. The Leafs had made a move:
Matt Martin to TOR. Four years. $2.5M AAV.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) 1 July 2016
If you're going for a tough guy, at least get an elite tough guy? Or, as El Seldo says here, maybe you just don't spend cap space that way.
The traditional view:
Martin impact goes well beyond the ice, character person in room and community . #TMLtalk— Paul Hendrick (@HennyTweets) 1 July 2016
The damning with faint praise view:
a $2.5M per year cap hit for a defensively sound 4th line hitter/enforcer is far from the worst contract in the NHL... but not great.— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) 1 July 2016
The meh, maybe he's got hidden depths portion of the afternoon:
Martin has made a significant positive impact on possession the past 2 years - been well above avg defensively in 4 of the past 5 yrs.— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) 1 July 2016
The "character" is legit view:
Martin was up for the NHL's Foundation Award this year for his breadth of charity work.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) 1 July 2016
And, in a day drenched in money, it was small beer.
We've now surpassed $400 million USD doled out today in #FreeAgentFrenzy.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) 1 July 2016
Roberto Osuna was great in the ninth inning, but the long form choral version of Just Play the Kids was getting sung by Leafs fans, nervous that the wrong right-handed defenceman was next. Free baseball played on in the background.
Kris Russell feels like a ticking bomb, just waiting for someone to cut the wrong wire— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) 1 July 2016
In a statement that could soothe us all while we waited for the Canada Day baseball marathon to end, Lou Lamoriello signaled he's not spending any more money.
Lou Lamoriello feels too much money was spent around the NHL today. Sounds like the #leafs won't be too active now.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) 1 July 2016