The Toronto Maple Leafs have avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, inking him to a three-year, $9.45 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual cap hit is $3.15 million, but in actual salary he’ll earn $2.85 million next season, $3.15 million in 2014-15 and $3.45 million in 2015-16. Gunnarsson more than doubled his $1.325 million per season salary from his previous contract. It pushes the Leafs payroll for next season to over $58 million invested in 20 players.
Gunnarsson, 26, logged big minutes for the Leafs last season, average over 21 minutes per game. Though not a physical blueliner, he does possess good defensive instincts and can move the puck well, though he’s not one for putting up significant offensive numbers. He’s not flashy, but he gets the job done.
His new deal reflects the Leaf desire to keep him around and see if his game develops further over the next three years. Some Leafs fans will likely quibble over the salary, but it’s the going rate for blueliners of his age and skill level.
The Leafs focus now shifts to re-signin Nazem Kadri and blueliner Mark Fraser, who is also scheduled for arbitration.