Lou Lamoriello knows there’s some risk in the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ acquisition of Patrick Marleau, who signed a three-year, $18.75-million contract with the team. But the Leafs GM is confident the decision to bring the veteran forward aboard was a sound one.
“It was a unanimous consensus on the player,” Lamoriello said Tuesday when he joined Bob McCown on Prime Time Sports. “He had a lot of teams that were interested in him for a lot of different reasons. First of all, the player he is and the way he plays and what his abilities are. And also the type of individual he is — and that played a role into the decision.”
Lamoriello praised Marleau for his ability to help the team on and off the ice — and for “his way of making other people around him better.”
The young stars of the team, he said, will be the Leafs’ core going forward, but those players still have a lot to learn, which is where Marleau fits in.
“Yes, there’s always a risk in any decision you make,” Lamoriello said. “But where the team is at, what he can bring to the players that we have and the education process, it was really a decision, as I said earlier and I feel comfortable saying, [that was] unanimous amongst our whole group.”
The GM also called Marleau an “elite skater” with excellent hockey sense.
While Marleau is already 37 — and will be 38 by the time the new NHL season starts — Lamoriello said Leafs management feels confident that the player “still has a lot of hockey left.”
He added that the team took into consideration “the way he’s taken care of himself throughout his whole career.”
The move to sign Marleau signals that Toronto is finished rebuilding, though it’s a costly decision. But Lamoriello emphasized that timing was everything.
“Yes, it’s a pricey contract,” he said. “We feel this is probably the only time in the careers of the young players that we have that we could take this type of a chance.”
Where Marleau lines up is still to be determined.
“If you ask Mike [Babcock] right now, he couldn’t tell you where he’s going to play,” Lamoriello said. “I think training camp will tell us.”
With Marleau on board, Lamoriello was asked about the search for a defenceman.
“Right now we’re extremely happy with the team we have,” he said. “We have depth. We do not have to do anything immediately, and we’re happy with the defence we have right now. You don’t just do something for the sake of doing it.”
Still, that doesn’t mean Lamoriello is done shopping.
“If there’s an opportunity to get better, whether it’s yesterday, whether it’s today, whether it’s tomorrow, you do that.”