A couple of days after head coach Dan Bylsma re-upped with the Pittsburgh Penguins for two years (and just a few days after former Toronto Maple Leafs GM turned SportsNet hockey pundit Bill Watters tweeted that “Dan is done.”), the Pens announced the signing of superstar Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $76 million. That’s an average annual salary of $9.5 million. The deal also involves a no-trade clause as well as $10 million in signing bonuses.
That’s not a surprise. Malkin is one of the top players in the NHL and at age 26, a long-term deal to finish his career in Pittsburgh was pretty much expected.
Frankly, the big signing yesterday was a quiet one, an economical one and one that will help the Toronto Maple Leafs immensely.
Winnipeg’s own Colton Orr, 31, signed a brand new two year, $1.85 million deal with the Leafs. It’s not a huge contract, but it’s still pretty nice for a kid from the North End.
The 2012-13 season was the final year of the four-year deal he signed in 1009-10, a deal worth $1 million per season. He’ll make less in this new deal, but he’s a smart guy. He knows what his job is and he knows the salary that job carries. He was happy to sign a deal in a place that now works for him. With Randy Carlyle as his coach, Orr improved dramatically in 2013 and he’ll only get better — as he continues to cling to his NHL heavyweight championship belt.
Orr was one of many players who was completely jerked over by the Brian Burke-Ron Wilson regime. He spent much of 2011-12 with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL and he kind of felt he was a forgotten man in a Leafs franchise that was going nowhere fast under Wilson.
But when Carlyle showed up, Orr not only made the team, he was given his old job back as the team’s enforcer and he was also given help — another young Winnipegger named Frazer McLaren. Carlyle and Dave Nonis invited Orr back into the NHL fold and he responded by beating the crap out of anybody who got near Phil Kessel or Joffrey Lupul.
He had a goal and three assists in 2013, but more importantly, he had 155 penalty minutes in 44 of 48 regular season games last season. He also played in all seven games of the Leafs’ first round playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Boston Bruins in 2001, Orr might get to 500 NHL games this season. Pretty good for a kid who didn’t start to play hockey until he was 12.
It’s a great signing for the Leafs. It will help Carlyle’s team get ever so much closer to being the legitimate Cup contender he believed they were last season.