There was a point this summer where I felt apathetic to whatever contract resolution Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to agree to. That moment has passed and I am pissed off about this whole situation and I don’t think I’m the only one.
How could a person born in the GTA, grow up a Leafs fan, get drafted with a top pick to his boyhood team, lead his team in scoring, and still want to find his way out of the city he loves (and that loved him) as quickly as possible? Let me explain that for you.
The obvious way for Marner to leave the Leafs was to sign an offer sheet, but no team wanted to pay what he wanted so that option has all but disappeared.
The other way would be to do what Zach Werenski did to the Columbus Blue Jackets a few days ago: sign a bridge deal that carries a one-year Qualifying Offer in the fourth year that the team has to offer that the player could sign, walking him to unrestricted free agency the next summer. The trick here is that the salary for the final year of the contract becomes the AAV for the Qualifying Offer. So whatever Werenski makes in salary in the final year of his deal, regardless of AAV, becomes his cap hit in the season before turning 27. For the Blue Jackets, the contract is $4 million in the first two years and $7 million in the final year.
One NHL GM observing RFA gridlock as well as today’s signing of Zach Werenski (CBJ) to 3-yr, $5M AAV contract: “It seems there’s a growing appetite, on both sides (club and player), to maybe solve the problem by kicking the can down the road (bridge deals). Market seems in flux.”— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 9, 2019
According to Elliotte Friedman, Marner was looking for a contract similar to this very early on in the process and reports now are that his side is looking for something in the two-year range, which would allow arbitration to solve these contract disputes on a one- or two-year scale, or when Marner gets to be a UFA.
Originally in this whole Marner saga, I was under the impression that Marner wanted the big number. To be paid like a star. I respected that, even if I disagreed with his self evaluation. But as the summer has gone on, I get a growing sense that Marner really cares about status on the team — being the number one guy. He’s not getting that from the Leafs for a variety of reasons (which we’ll discuss below), and it seems more and more clear that he’s not going to be willing to swallow his pride and be a part of this team.
I’m not going to beg Marner to stay on the Leafs, they’ll be fine without him. It just hurts a lot to see him choose the long and dirty method of getting out of Toronto after his temper tantrum didn’t get it done. It’s going to be a long five years with Auston Matthews at the helm of the Leafs, but it might be an even longer four years off the ice with Marner.
Back when Nick Kypreos was a straight-shooting and entertaining analyst, he would often go on rants about how a players’ actions on or off the ice would affect their teammates. Putting themselves ahead of the team in the countless number of ways possible. Think back to Ryan O’Reilly signing an offer sheet but it getting matched, or the players using the escrow inflator so the best players could increase the pay gap between them and the rest. It just rubs me the wrong way when the plucky small winger who lays his body on the line also goes out and throws that reputation in the garbage for a few extra dollars.
*grandfather Mitch Marner explaining his career to his young grandchildren*— jake (@jakebeleafs) September 10, 2019
"and so the trade was how i ended up playing my whole career in the sunbelt and never won anything. but it's important to remember, kids, i now have 88 million dollars instead of 81 million dollars"
And that brings us to the links.
So Auston Matthews is going to be captain, eh! That’s super cool for a million different reasons! Until we don’t get it because Marner didn’t sign...
Chris Johnston says he thinks Matthews will be the Leafs Captain but the timing is tricky because it might complicate the Marner negotiations on the side if they announce it before a deal is done. https://t.co/EbSyptQFjF— James (@Account4hockey) September 10, 2019
My 2019 Maple Leafs Prospect Pyramid came out yesterday, and it carries a twist that will hopefully clarify some of the debates that occurred during the Top 25 Under 25 series. Tell me what you think of the rankings and the concept!
Also from the site, Seldo outlines what the Leafs likely will and could do when it comes to their goaltending depth. It was a great piece that only had to be fact-checked once!
The Baby Leafs completed their prospect tournament in Traverse City, losing to the Columbus Baby Jackets in overtime. Katya should have a recap of the event in the coming hours or days, so keep an eye out for that.
Roster looks a lot different today.— Pension Plan Puppets (@PPPLeafs) September 10, 2019
68 T. Bradley 87 M. Bradley 90 Estephan
84 Stotts 95 Abramov 86 Alistrov
64 Nelson 67 Simoneau 63 Moore
71 Carroll 62 Woods 66 Hamblin
73 Sapego 98 Loponen
74 Pepin 75 Larochelle
78 C. Robertson 92 Staios
Even as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes (ugh), Jake Gardiner still knows the Leafs’ brand: ignoring the Habs.
Our friends over at Raw Charge have a great article up on the use of depth players like Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Maroon on the power play.
Apparently, Evgeni Malkin was going to request a trade out of Pittsburgh if the Penguins didn’t trade Phil Kessel? WHAT??
And in other NHL prospect tournament news, the Chicago Blackhawks lost four of their prospects to injury on the same day. When will the Hawks ever catch a break?
Also, Seldo wants us to talk about the new Minecraft craze affecting our yutes. So, uhh, go nuts!