After months of trying negotiations, Clarke MacArthur will be back with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.
The restricted free agent avoided going to salary arbitration by signing a two-year, $6.5-million deal on Tuesday, earning a sizable raise from the $1.1-million contract he signed late last August.
MacArthur went on to have a career year, finishing second on the Leafs in scoring with 62 points while playing left wing on a surprisingly effective line with Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski.
Contract talks were difficult, however, given MacArthur’s production was nearly double his previous career high. Leafs GM Brian Burke told media leading up to the trade deadline that he could be dealt if his asking price was too high.
“If he doesn't agree to something that makes sense, then we're going to listen [to offers],” Burke said in mid-February.
“It’s not an easy player to quantify. It’s a player who’s averaged roughly 40 points his whole career and now he’s on pace for 80 or whatever it is. It’s not easy to quantify what a player like that’s worth.”
MacArthur even switched to high profile agent Don Meehan – who has several top Leafs as clients – late in the year in the hopes that a deal could get done with Toronto.
With the deadline for salary arbitration set at 5 p.m. on Tuesday evening, it was believed MacArthur would go that route for the second year in a row, risking that he would once again be without a contract late in the summer.
The Atlanta Thrashers walked away from a $2.4-million award to him a year ago after not even tabling a counter offer, leaving MacArthur to scramble to find another team long after free agency opened on July 1.
That ended up being in Toronto, where he’s now found a home for the near future.