For the Toronto Maple Leafs, this summer was all about signing Mitch Marner and making sure they had the proper cap space to do it. However, they have now used their cap space to trade Garret Sparks and re-acquire David Clarkson from the Vegas Golden Knights. In addition to the injured winger, they also received a fourth-round pick for picking up the contract. The Golden Knights immediately re-signed defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one year contract.
Clarkson hasn’t suited up in the NHL since the 2015-16 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets where he scored two goals and two assists for four points in 23 games. He is widely known as a “one year wonder” throughout the league. In 2011-12, he scored 30 goals and 16 assists for 46 points in 80 games with the New Jersey Devils. He has fallen off tremendously since then and has spent the last few years on the Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). Clarkson will most likely remain on the LTIR with the Leafs as they need cap space to re-sign Marner.
Sparks had an extremely disappointing year as the backup goaltender for the Maple Leafs. His days as a Maple Leaf are now over. He posted a record of 8-9-1 in 20 games with the team and posted a .902 save percentage. Not impressive numbers for a goalie who was previously touted as the goalie of the future.
Engelland was re-signed to one year, $700,000 contract with the Golden Knights due to the newfound cap space. In 74 games this year, the defenseman scored two goals and 10 assists for 12 points. Engelland is a locker room favorite and a veteran presence. At first glance it is a minor signing, however, Engelland is mentoring the young d-core, which makes this an important signing for the Golden Knights.
In my opinion, the Golden Knights are the clear winner of this trade. They needed to clear cap space to sign Engelland and hopefully sign Nikita Gusev, which they now have the cap space to do so. The Maple Leafs will clearly put Clarkson on the LTIR and his cap space will cancel out the minute they re-sign Marner.
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