July 5, 2011
Leafs sign MacArthur, Bozak
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Like his namesake, the defiant U.S. general in World War II, Clarke MacArthur has returned.
And he brought Tyler Bozak with him.
MacArthur, Toronto’s second leading scorer last season, badly wanted to come back to the team where he has felt most at home in his five-year NHL career. Some late movement on the contract front Tuesday night made it happen. MacArthur agreed to a two-year, $6.5-million US deal just as the window to file for salary arbitration in the National Hockey League was opening.
“(We’re) happy to sign Mac to a two-year deal, he earned it through his play last season,” general manager Brian Burke said.
And when the NHLPA announced the 22 players filing for salary arbitration after the 5 p.m. cut-off, centre Bozak was not among them. Less than two hours later, Bozak tweeted his own re-signing: “Glad to be back with the Leafs to play in front of the best fans in the world.”
Bozak’s agent Wade Arnott said it was a two-year deal.
With goals so hard to come by for the Leafs, it made sense from their angle not to alienate MacArthur, the club’s assist leader and a popular dressing room figure.
MacArthur was a bargain for the Leafs at $1.1 million last year when the Atlanta Thrashers walked away from an arbitration award double that size.
MacArthur, 26, set career highs in 2010-11 with 62 points, just two back of the Leafs’ top gun, Phil Kessel. There will be an internal battle for ice time this season between the projected second line of MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, and Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and new centre Tim Connolly.
The Leafs now must get their remaining big-name restricted free agent, defenceman Luke Schenn, signed up. They remain around $7 million under the $64.3-million NHL cap to see it through.
The MacArthur camp was worried about sweating out another arbitration hearing in August, even though Burke said he would pay any award he judged not too outlandish. His objection was that MacArthur’s burst of activity might only be a one-year wonder and thus he was reluctant to fork over elite forward money. But a slew of big-number unrestricted free agent signings around the league since July 1 was likely driving prices higher.
Bozak had been the Leafs’ No. 1 centre almost all of last season, but low output led to Connolly’s arrival at $9.5 million over two years. Bozak is expected to take the third line job created by the departure of Tim Brent and possibly UFA Darryl .