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Maple Leafs land Clarkson, re-sign Bozak

Friday, 07.05.2013 / 11:12 PM / NHL Free Agency 2013

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Maple Leafs land Clarkson, re-sign Bozak
Center Tyler Bozak is staying in Toronto and right wing David Clarkson is leaving New Jersey to join him.

Center Tyler Bozak is staying in Toronto and right wing David Clarkson is leaving New Jersey to join him.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Clarkson to a seven-year contract Friday, and Bozak re-signed for five years and $21 million.

Clarkson is from Mimico, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. It's the same hometown as Maple Leafs center Dave Bolland, who was acquired in a trade during the 2013 NHL Draft.

"It feels good. It's an honor to be here," Clarkson told reporters Friday night. "I wore that jersey as a kid. I was a big Leaf fan when I was little, so it'll be pretty special to put it on. For my family, it's a big day."

Many people thought Bozak would be leaving Toronto after the Bolland trade, but now the Maple Leafs' top three centers are Nazem Kadri, Bozak and Bolland. Toronto waived Mikhail Grabovski on Thursday to buy out the remaining four years on his five-year contract.

"We're pretty happy with our top nine [forwards]," Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said. "We'll be pretty competitive. I think our fourth line will be very hard to play against. I can tell you our coach [Randy Carlyle] is very happy with the options that we have right now. He's a mixer and matcher of lines and players and he's happy with what we've done so far."

Clarkson, 29, scored 15 goals and 24 points in 46 games for the New Jersey Devils in 2012-13. He scored a career-high 30 goals in 2011-12.

Bozak, 27, had 28 points in 46 games in 2012-13 centering Phil Kessel, who led the Maple Leafs with 52 points in 48 games. Bozak has 134 points in 238 games, all with Toronto.

"They're close," Nonis said of Bozak and Kessel. "But both know it's a business. At the end of the day, if Tyler had to leave, I'm sure Phil would have understood."

The Devils signed Clarkson as an undrafted free agent in August 2005. He made his NHL debut during the 2006-07 season and became a full-time player for New Jersey in 2007-08.

Clarkson has 97 goals and 73 assists for 170 points in 426 regular-season games. He has 14 points in 44 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including 12 in 24 games in 2012, when the Devils went to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings.

"I try to come out every night and wear my heart on my sleeve," Clarkson said. "That's just the type of player I am. I try and do different, little things, whether it's scoring or hitting. The pressure … every game you go on that ice, you need to play well. You need to do something. I'm somebody that's going to come home and that's my plan. Every night, I'm going to go out there and put the hard hat on and go to work."

Also Friday, Toronto agreed to terms with goaltender Jonathan Bernier on a two-year contract. Bernier was obtained from the Los Angeles Kings on June 23 in a three-player trade. The 24-year-old appeared in 14 regular-season games for the Kings in 2012-13 and went 9-3-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. His GAA was second-lowest among NHL goaltenders.

The Maple Leafs also announced they signed forwards Frazer McLaren and Trevor Smith, and defensemen T.J. Brennan and Kevin Marshall.

"I don't think we're finished; this is going to be an ongoing process," Nonis said. "[We'll be working] the next 12-24 months to try to put together a team that hopefully has a chance to do something special."

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With this being the last year [at the Coliseum], we'd love to try to get back to the dance like we did against Pittsburgh and prove ourselves and go even further. It's an important year.

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