It looks like Patrick Marleau will return to the NHL for at least one more season. The San Jose Sharks have signed their former second overall pick after he spent the last two seasons playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 40-year-old winger will play in what will likely be his last season in the NHL.
Marleau spent his entire 19-year career with the Sharks before leaving in 2017 to join the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency. Marleau signed a three-year contract with the Leafs that carried an annual average value of $6,250,000. He spent two seasons with the Leafs in Toronto before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes and was then bought out this past offseason. The Leafs were forced to move Marleau in order to add cap space which was needed to re-sign restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner.
In his return to San Jose, Marleau signed a one-year deal worth the league minimum $700,000. The Sharks, who are already pushed for cap space, are getting Marleau at a great base value. He is coming off of a 37 point season which is the lowest total since his rookie season. However, his role was significantly reduced last season with the Leafs due to young players such as Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen making a serious impact on the roster.
The Marleau signing couldn’t have come at a better time as they have had a poor start to the season and the return of a beloved player in Marleau could be exactly what the Sharks locker room needs. Having gone 0-3 to start the season has not been easy for the Sharks. While Patrick Marleau may not be able to single handily bring the Sharks back from a poor start, he certainly still has gas left in the tank to make an impact.
Longtime teammate Joe Thornton still believes that Marleau has what it takes to play in the NHL. Before the signing was announced, Thornton said in an interview with The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, “He skates with us in the summer and he’s still the best skater on the ice.” Marleau has always been known for his elite skating abilities and according to Thornton, his skating abilities have not changed.
A big reason why Marleau waited so long to sign an NHL contract was ultimately because of location. He wanted to be near his family in San Jose and worked on a deal with the Sharks during the offseason. The Sharks were another cap pressed team and ultimately decided that signing Marleau was not realistic at the time. Fast forward three games into the season and things seem to have changed and worked out for the best.
Shark’s management was given a massive gift when Kevin Labanc signed a one-year, $1 million contract in order to help the Sharks bring in some depth to the roster after multiple players left the team in free agency this past offseason. Marleau is a fan favourite who will do whatever he can to help the Sharks make it to the playoffs and win the Stanely Cup. This season will likely be Marleau’s last chance to take home the Stanley Cup as an NHL player.