Done Deal: Toronto Maple Leafs Confirm The Signing Of Another Top Experienced $27 Million Player

Insider Labels Maple Leafs’ $27 Million Signing as ‘Risky’


NHL insider Chris Johnston considers the Toronto Maple Leafs’ six-year deal with Chris Tanev to be a risky move.

The Maple Leafs signed Tanev, one of the top free agents, to a six-year, $27 million contract. While long-term deals are common, Tanev is 34 and will turn 35 on December 20. His injury history adds to the risk, but Johnston believes the gamble was necessary for Toronto.

“The contract is long and risky. But, this was exactly the type of player the Leafs needed and exactly the one who was available. Assuming health, which you can’t always assume for a 34-year-old with a history of injuries, I like it short-term for the Leafs for sure,” Johnston said on The Chris Johnston Show on July 4.


The lengthy contract helps lower Tanev’s annual salary, but his injury history could pose a long-term problem for Toronto.

Tanev has played in 792 regular season games, tallying 33 goals and 157 assists for 190 points. However, he is primarily valued for his defense and shot-blocking skills.

Tanev’s Role with the Maple Leafs

Tanev is projected to be on the top defensive pair with Morgan Reilly, according to This makes him the best right-shot defenseman Reilly has partnered with in his career.

“He’s just an elite defensive player,” Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving said after acquiring Tanev’s rights on June 29. “We talk about offensive players seeing things and seeing plays early. He does the same thing but on the defensive side of the puck.”

Tanev is also expected to be on Toronto’s top penalty kill unit.

Tanev’s Hometown Return

Tanev, a Toronto native, signed with the Maple Leafs before free agency began on July 1, following the team’s acquisition of his rights. He expressed excitement about returning home and playing for Toronto.

“It’s been a stressful last few days. Once I realized it wasn’t going to happen in Dallas and Toronto was able to trade for my rights, it was, I wouldn’t say inevitable, but we figured out a way to make this work,” Tanev told reporters on July 1. “It’s super-exciting for me to come home and play for a team that has so much history, so much expectation and winning in Toronto is everyone’s ultimate goal… It’s a team with elite talent, some of the best players in the world. It’s impressive watching their top-end guys.”

In addition to Tanev, Toronto signed Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a four-year deal, providing the team with more defensive options.

“We’ve got a group of defensemen. I’d rather have too many than not enough, and we’ll try to sort this out in the coming days. Today’s a day that you can add players, but you build your team over the course of the summer. There are certainly some areas that we still want to address and still want to augment,” Treliving added.

The Maple Leafs will start their 2024-25 NHL season on October 9 against the Montreal Canadiens.

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