Maple Leafs sign fourth liner Matt Martin to four-year deal
NHL profile photo on New York Islanders' Matt Martin at a game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alberta on Feb. 25, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, July 1, 2016 4:31PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 1, 2016 5:28PM EDT
Once the poster team of frenzied, often haphazard activity on July 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs lingered quietly in the background on Canada Day.
The Leafs signed only fourth line winger Matt Martin on the opening day of NHL free agency, continuing their path of calculated decision-making under team president Brendan Shanahan.
"We really weren't in the market so to speak to do much," Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "But you talk just to make sure you're aware of what's going on and if there's something unique that comes about that can help you you have to be available to do that."
Toronto was in competition to sign Steven Stamkos, the top prospective free agent on the market, only to see him opt to stay in Tampa on a bargain eight-year deal.
"We had interest in Steve Stamkos that did not work out," Lamoriello said.
Martin, formerly of the New York Islanders, joined the club on a four-year deal with a reported annual cap hit of $2.5 million. A six foot three, 220-pounder with long, flowing locks, Martin has led the league in hits for five years running, chipping in with 10 goals, too, last year on one of the NHL's top fourth line units.
Lamoriello said Martin had fans on the Mike Babcock-led coaching staff. Babcock made no secret of his desire for more size and edge on next season's roster.
Last summer Toronto signed a handful of players to short-term contracts, then shipping those players out for future assets ahead of the trade deadline. Expected to turn over the roster to younger players next season, including No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews, the Leafs have less roster space to accommodate such moves this time around.
In addition to Matthews, Toronto's roster next year could include 2015 first rounder Mitch Marner as well as youngsters like William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov, Zach Hyman and Nikita Zaitsev, a defender plucked from the KHL.
The Leafs already added a starting goaltender to their roster this off-season, trading for and then signing 26-year-old Frederik Andersen to five-year deal. The club also locked up Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly to long-term pacts.
Toronto management groups pre-dating Shanahan, who joined the team in 2014, were known for wild, sometimes reckless spending on July 1. In 2013, the Leafs signed David Clarkson to a pricey seven-year contract that rapidly became an anchor that was eventually dealt to Columbus. A few years before that, the club added Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin; one was soon bought out, the other traded.
The Leafs, under Shanahan, have opted to build through the draft, selecting 11 prospects at the event last week.