These are interesting times if you're Clarke MacArthur.
He's the Toronto Maple Leafs leading scorer, he's recently married and he's in line for a big-time raise from the $1.1-million deal he signed in August. The only problem is that his GM, Brian Burke, came out publicly yesterday and said MacArthur could be on the move.
With six days to go until the trade deadline, MacArthur said today he remains hopeful everything can be worked out in order to keep him with the Leafs long term.
"Obviously it's a little uncomfortable," he said. "I'd love to stay and get something done. It's going to be nice when the week's over, that's for sure. I just want to focus on being in a playoff race here. That's the most important thing."
MacArthur recently dumped his long-time agent Tim Hodgson in favour of the much more high profile Don Meehan. He said today that was a difficult decision, but that he felt having a Toronto-based agent who also represents some of the Leafs' core players (Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, Colby Armstrong, among others) may help get a deal done.
MacArthur and Phaneuf are old friends dating back to playing in the Edmonton area in their early teens, and my guess is Meehan came highly recommended by the Leafs captain.
"Things have worked out for his players," MacArthur said. "He seems to always get a fair number. I've never heard a bad thing about him. All the guys here are really happy with him."
Neither side in this situation wants to talk about terms publicly, although Burke and Meehan are getting together to chat with one another later this week. My sense from poking around a little is that the player side is searching for that "fair number" more than anything and not looking to push for the highest possible figure they can get.
What's hard to quantify, as Burke mentioned yesterday, is just what that number is. MacArthur's had a solid, 60-point season this year, but it's fair to say that his linemates (Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin) deserve a lot of credit there as they've both had breakout seasons. (Grabovski's been Toronto's best player since training camp.)
A two- or three-year contract in the $2.8- to $3-million range is probably appropriate, with anything much over that a win for Meehan and under that a win for Burke. MacArthur should technically be in line for less of a raise than an unrestricted free agent given he's an RFA, but the NHL has shifted toward giving young restricteds plenty of cash.
In addition to Burke's hunt for a defenceman, this will be the one Leafs' storyline to keep an eye on over the next week.
- J-S Giguere was at the morning skate today but isn't yet ready to get back into game action. He also said today that he feel as though he'll be staying in Toronto the rest of the season given his injury issues this year will make it very difficult for Burke to trade him.
- That leaves James Reimer as the starter tonight against the New York Islanders and Ben Scrivens as his backup, as the Leafs continue to go with their fourth and fifth string netminders. Giguere should be ready to return by the weekend, while Jonas Gustavsson was sent down to the Marlies to finish off his conditioning stint. He'll play tomorrow for them.
- Colby Armstrong, who will wear Tomas Kaberle's 'A', and Mike Brown will both be back in the lineup and playing on the same line, which means Joey Crabb will sit. Christian Hanson was sent back to the minors.
- Al Montoya, who is the sixth netminder to play for the Islanders this season, gets the start for the opposition. It'll be a rematch of an AHL game in November when Reimer faced Montoya in a 6-1 Marlies win over the San Antonio Rampage.
- Spoke briefly this morning with Montoya, who is widely regarded as a bust given he was drafted sixth overall by the New York Rangers but has hardly played in the NHL and just turned 26. He's been excellent so far for the Isles, however, and is really hoping this is his chance to prove some people wrong. "This is something I've been waiting for since the day I was drafted by New York," Montoya said. "This is what I've been working for."
- This is, incredibly, a meeting of two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. The Leafs, Isles and Devils are a combined 23-5-3 since the all-star break and sit 11th, 13th and 14th in the standings.
MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Lupul - Bozak - Kessel Armstrong - Boyce - Brown Rosehill - Brent - Sjostrom
Aulie - Phaneuf Gunnarsson - Schenn Lebda - Komisarek
Islanders roster (based on last game)
Moulson - Tavares - Parenteau Grabner - Nielsen - Okposo Comeau - Bailey - Joensuu Haley - Konopka - Martin
Hillen - Martinek Hamonic - MacDonald Jurcina - Wishart