Mar­leau adds depth, lead­er­ship.

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN WHYNO

The sec­ond day of Na­tional Hockey League free agency was a boon for hockey in Canada as one team locked up its fran­chise goalie and an­other gave its young star a new winger.

Carey Price, con­sid­ered by many the best goal­tender in the world, signed an eight-year ex­ten­sion with the Cana­di­ens that means he’ll likely fin­ish his ca­reer in Mon­treal. The ri­val Toronto Maple Leafs coun­tered by sign­ing elder for­ward Patrick Mar­leau, 37, to an $18.75-million US, three-year con­tract that puts a vet­eran goalscorer on Aus­ton Matthews’ left wing.

The Cana­di­ens and Maple Leafs haven’t met in the play­offs since 1979. Moves made Sun­day put them on a much more likely crash course in the next few years.

Price’s ex­ten­sion, which re­port­edly pays him $10.5 million a year from 2018-19 through to the 20252026 sea­son, so­lid­i­fies the most im­por­tant po­si­tion in the sport long term in one of the league’s most fer­vent mar­kets. Price won the Hart Tro­phy as MVP and Vez­ina Tro­phy as the top goalie in 201415 and has the third-best save per­cent­age of any ac­tive goal­tender since en­ter­ing the league. Mon­treal gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin didn’t hes­i­tate in call­ing Price his “fran­chise player.”

“I have enough ex­pe­ri­ence to deal with any­thing that be­ing a goal­tender for the Cana­di­ens can throw at me,” Price said. “I never thought about putting on an­other uni­form. I just thought it’d be too weird, I guess.”

It was weird for some to ever imag­ine Mar­leau wear­ing an­other uni­form other than the San Jose Sharks. But he’ll do so next sea­son af­ter leav­ing the team that drafted him sec­ond over­all in 1997 that he played for the past 19 seasons.

Mar­leau weighed sev­eral of­fers and de­cided to leave San Jose and take a deal with Toronto at ap­prox­i­mately $6.25 million a year.

Af­ter teams spent more than $200 million in the first few hours of free agency Satur­day, the league was mostly quiet on Sun­day with most of the big names off the board. A few re­main, in­clud­ing Mon­treal’s rock steady vet­eran An­drei Markov and Alexan­der Radulov, whom Price would like to have back. That’s far from a guar­an­tee. “I spoke to both play­ers and we made of­fers they chose not to take (in or­der to) to go on the free agent mar­ket,” Bergevin said. “That’s their right, and I re­spect that. But at the end of the day, based on what they’re ask­ing for, it would be im­pos­si­ble to bring back both of them.”

Sev­eral play­ers in their late 30s and even their 40s re­main un­signed, in­clud­ing long­time Mar­leau run­ning mate Joe Thorn­ton, who’s 38. Jaromir Jagr, 45, and Jarome Iginla, 40, are also avail­able, while 40-year-olds Shane Doan and Matt Cullen are de­cid­ing whether to play an­other year.

The Ve­gas Golden Knights made an­other trade Sun­day, ac­quir­ing cen­tre Mar­cus Kruger from the Chicago Black­hawks for fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tions.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Carey Price will soon be the high­est-paid goal­tender in the Na­tional Hockey League.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Free agent for­ward Patrick Mar­leau has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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