Lots of buzz around coveted RFA Mitch Marner
The Toronto Maple Leafs went all in this past year, as they should have. They finally negotiated a deal with William Nylander mid-way through the season, signed former Islander captain John Tavares to a 7-year, $77 million ($11 million AAV) deal, acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin from Los Angeles, and had two of the best young forwards in the game in Matthews and Marner. Unfortunately for them, they fell short, and general manager Kyle Dubas is staring down what seems to be an extremely difficult summer for his club.
After signing former first overall pick Auston Matthews to a 5-year deal that kicks in in 2019-2020 carrying an AAV of $11.634 million, Toronto is projected to have just below $9 million in cap space as per CapFriendly. Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey are all but gone, so there are some questions that will have to be answered on their blue line. The biggest issue for the Leafs is getting RFA forwards Kasperi Kapanen, and more importantly Mitch Marner, under contract. What lies ahead for Dubas and co. when it comes to these two?
Kapanen is an interesting case, but not as interesting as Marner. The 22-year-old Marner has established himself as one of the premiere wingers in the sport compiling 94 points in the 2018-2019 season. Recent reports elude to Marner wanting something in the $10-11.5 million AAV range. That number would make him the highest paid winger in the league over Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million AAV) who had 128 points this past season for the Lightning. Below is a ~15 minute interview with Darren Dreger discussing what lies ahead for the Leafs and Marner.
If you listened, you will know what was said, but to summarize, Dreger said that Marner’s camp and the Leafs have not yet started talking numbers, and he feels this is going to be a very tough situation moving forward. More importantly he talks about how he expects Marner to visit teams that may offersheet him when he is allowed to on June 26th. The tweet below talks about important dates for Marner moving forward, and what Dreger feels needs to be an “aggressive offer” from the Leafs to keep the 22-year-old Marner around.
I think it will be interesting to see what teams Marner decides to visit, and which teams will offersheet him if it gets to that point. As per Elliote Friedman and The Athletic’s Rick Carpinello, the Rangers may be a team active in the offersheet market, but as I wrote in a previous post, for Brayden Point. I don’t know if the Rangers would be a team that offersheets Marner, but then again you never know.
If I had to bet a team that might do it, I would say our rivals from Long Island….or Brooklyn, would do the deed. Lou would certainly be inclined to get after his former team by either driving up the price on Marner for Toronto, or getting the star winger for his current club.