Photo Credit: © John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Marner negotiations “to go beyond July 1st”, expected to visit other teams

One of the most important summers in recent memory for the Leafs is steadily approaching. Mitch Marner needs a new contract and rumours are already swirling as to what this offseason will look like.

Appearing on TSN1050 on Tuesday afternoon, Darren Dreger said that he expects the contract negotiations for one of the Leafs’ star players will go beyond July 1st. Even to go as far as that the player will be meeting with other interested teams around the league and discussing a potential offer sheet.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Because of this, if the Leafs want to sign Marner before the interviews start, they will have to make an enticing offer of a salary above $10-million. Potentially ruining their cap structure to sign the forward before he’s able to talk to other teams.

Dreger also added later that he would personally be surprised if Marner signed anything over five years — meaning that he wants to reach free agency as soon as possible and maximize his earning potential.

Whether this is the truth or some of Marner’s camp negotiating through the media, there is a strong sense that the forward will not sign on anything resembling a team-friendly contract. No matter what, Marner will be getting every penny he’s worth most likely, from the Leafs or from another team.

In the most unenviable position in the whole league, GM Kyle Dubas has a couple choices on his plate. Either pay that extra one or two million on the team’s cap and risk losing a depth player like Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen for less than hoped for, or just play hardball.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The hard negotiation tactic — playing chicken with Marner’s camp — might not necessarily work, but it would certainly free up a variety of possibilities for the Leafs next season. Whether it’s an offer sheet or a trade elsewhere, the Leafs would regain the assets and most likely flip them in trades for necessary pieces in the lineup.

But letting a player like Marner leave for at-worst a couple more million on your cap seems unnecessary, but that’s the evil of the current hard cap system. They won’t have room for that extra million and restricting them in possible offseason transactions might hurt the team more than what Marner would bring.

The most surprising aspect of this radio hit is that Marner and his camp are willing to go interview with possible teams submitting offer sheets. It was somewhat assumed, but now it’s out in the open and signifies that they are willing to do whatever it takes to earn his best contract offer.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

All we know for sure now is that this will be a very long summer full of contract negotiation talks from both sides.

To listen to the full Darren Dreger radio hit, click here (Marner talk begins at 5:50).

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Stan Smith

    To me, this makes a lot of sense to both sides. I heard somewhere, and can’t remember where, that the Leafs best strategy might be to wait for July 1st and see if Marner does get an offersheet. If it isn’t too far out of sight, they match, or come close. If, like some insiders predict, there is no offer sheet, it works in the Leafs favour, and they stick to their last offer. If the offersheet is totally outrageous, they say good bye and move on.

    Any way you look at it, I thinks this gets settled shortly after July 1st.

    • Bob Canuck

      It would appear that Dreger is, at the very least, a mere stenographer for the Marner camp.

      If one thought that Patrick Kane is a comparable for Marner, then using Kane’s cap hit as a percentage of the cap on 5-year deal (11.09% when Kane signed his first post-ELC contract) would generate a 9.2 million AAV on a 5-year deal for Marner. Dreger’s statement that the AAV will be in excess of $10 million AAV on a 5-year deal is evidence that he is either a conduit for the Marner camp or math is not his strong suit. Perhaps both are true.

      • Stan Smith

        I personally can’t see the Leafs getting Marner signed for anything less than 10. I can’t see it being 5 years either, just because that would mean the Leafs would have all three of MNM come due at the same time.

        My thinking is between 10 and 10.5 for 6 years. It buys one year of UFA but puts Marner in the position to go last again in the next round.

        • Bob Canuck

          A 6-year deal will buy 2 UFA years. However, your estimate of a $10 million AAV on a 6-year deal for Marner is reasonable if you think Kane is the appropriate comparable. I think Kane should garner a higher cap hit (in percentage terms at the time of signing) than Marner given that he is more of a goal scorer than Marner projects to be. However, we are all just spit-balling at this point in time.