|Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports|
One of the major story lines in Leafs Nation over the past week has been free agency. Many were speculating over who the Leafs were going to sign (or trade for) on July 5th. After the buyout of Mikhail Grabovski the day before "free agent frenzy" it was imminent that a few moves would be made on the first day of free agency. There was mixed reactions over the buyout of the centerman and while a lot of fans were upset, most agreed that his contract was too expensive to keep him. Mikhail signed a five-year extension with the Maple Leafs last season for a total of $27.5 million with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. That is far too much money for a center man who was unable to live up to his potential value.
Within the first hour of the free agency period it was announced that Clarke MacArthur had signed a deal with rival Ottawa Senators. After the two moves it was obvious, the Leafs needed to sign a center and a winger to replace Grabovski and MacArthur. Almost three hours in to free agent frenzy it was announced that David Clarkson had signed a 7-year contract worth $37 million, which brings a cap hit of $5.25 million a season. Tyler Bozak was also re-signed to a 5-year contract worth $27 million, a cap hit of $4.2 million a season.
The signing of David Clarkson brought even more speculation than the Grabovski buyout did. Is a $5.25 million cap hit too much for the gritty winger? Is a 7-year term too long for a forward in his prime? Is David Clarkson the spark the Leafs need to make a deep playoff run? While all these are valid questions I believe Clarkson's grit and playoff experience will prove to be a priceless commodity in the Leafs locker room. While the price for Clarkson may seem a little steep, we cannot judge Dave Nonis' decision until the season gets underway. One thing's for sure, Clarkson will be a feisty player that will have no trouble making his way to the front of the net, something the Leafs haven't seen since the presence of Darcy Tucker. While Clarkson is just as feisty as number 16 used to be, he also has the potential to be a very successful power forward with goal scoring abilities.