Sportsnet is reporting that the Maple Leafs have agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Francois Beauchemin on a 3 year contract, worth $11.5 million. The Beauchemin-Burke reunion has long been rumored by various news outlets since the end of the season.
Staying consistent with the outlined game plan prior to the start of free agent frenzy, the Leafs have added yet another “under 30″ core piece to the puzzle, by bringing in a key cog of a championship calibre defense who just turned 29 last month. This signing will provide the young Leafs’ defense core with a savvy veteran, locker room leader, and proven winner.
The Beauchemin signing immediately addresses several needs. After shipping Pavel Kubina and his power play bullet from the point, the Leafs will replace him with one of the hardest shots in the entire NHL. In addition, Beauchemin is perennially among the league’s top minute loggers averaging roughly 25 minutes/game over the past three seasons. This would go a long way in filling the 40-45 minute/night void left by the Kubina trade and seemingly imminent departure of Tomas Kaberle.
The $3.8M/season price tag is excellent value for a player of Beauchemin’s ability and track record, as other comparable #2-3 defensemen have signed for considerably higher dollar and term this summer. However, it should be noted that he is coming off a season in which he played only 20 games due to a torn ACL, so there is some risk involved.
With the addition of Beauchemin to the current group of Kaberle, Komisarek, Schenn, Stralman, White, Exelby, Finger, Frogren and Van Ryn, the Leafs blueline situation now stands at 10 NHL calibre defensemen, with roughly $25M in salary committed.
Expect a follow-up move, or several, to happen sometime soon.