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Photo Credit: © Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie: Leafs and Marner still far apart in negotiations

The one last thing to do this offseason for GM Kyle Dubas and the Leafs’ front office is to re-sign Mitch Marner and it looks like there is still a lengthy timeline ahead.

While most Restricted Free Agents around the league are still waiting to be re-signed, the one that is getting the most attention is Marner and that is because of the constant drama this negotiation has been surrounded by.

Multiple reports on the involvement of certain parental parties in the negotiations and how far off the demands are still, it’s natural for this to take forever and will eventually lead past the summer.

It doesn’t help that the Columbus Blue Jackets have reportedly talked to Marner’s camp about the possibility of an offer sheet coming their way — but again, demands were too far off and the team refused to go that route. Every week there is a new narrative in the Marner negotiations and this week it’s just constant dread of the never-ending talks.

Coming from the most reliable voice in all of hockey is a massive deal, no more small rumours about what other teams are doing coming from untrustworthy sources.

McKenzie goes into brief detail on how the contract talks are going on and it does not look good.

According to him, the Leafs are at a point that they are somewhat wishing for an offer sheet to come in from another team. Forcing a decision depending on the compensation that they would acquire for not matching the offer. It would put a concrete timeline on the negotiation and not let this go on any longer.

This is especially interesting since Dubas stated that Marner was a priority at the end of the regular season, having learned from the Nylander negotiations and how it was both the player and management’s fault that the player had a poor season due to not going through the regular process of a training camp. Any sort of offer sheet would put both the player and team at ease, making sure that Marner would be ready for next season, for whatever team he’s playing for.

No matter what the ending result would be, having the player ready for the 2019-20 season should be valuable to Marner’s camp.

The current situation is a grim one. Both sides are reportedly still at complete different ends in valuation, according to McKenzie, and that is not somewhere the Leafs want to be.

Through all the rumoured requests of Marner, it does seem that the asks for his next deal are on the extremely-high side. Wanting less term but also around the same amount of dollars as some of the best players in his generation, might be just a tad unreasonable.

But also from the team’s point-of-view, it would benefit them to go under the valuation since there is a limited amount of cap space left for the player. With about $9.5-million (after Nathan Horton heads to LTIR), the Leafs have that amount to work with. They already made cap-benefitting moves with the Zaitsev and Marleau trades, but are still left with the player wanting more than they can realistically offer.

A “fundamental difference” is most likely the worst phrasing that this negotiation could have, giving the impression that even meeting in the middle between the two demands is unlikely.

The best case scenario for everyone is that another team comes swooping in with an offer sheet and fans, the team, and the player, will see an end to this endless parade of contract and valuation talks.

Save us all, other 30 NHL franchises.

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  • JohnChris

    Sick of hearing all this about Marner. His whole motivation seems to be about money and more money. His desire to play for the Leafs is very questionable in my mind. There has to be a point in which the Leafs play hard-ball. In pro sports today, there is no such thing as an “untouchable” player, even Marner.

    • janmoh

      Marner feels he’s worth the same contract as Matthews. He’s proved it IMHO. Unfortunately he’s the last guy to sign , after Tavares , Nylander and Matthews. If he can’t get the same amount if I was him I would ask for 10M over 4 years instead of 5 and he would be a UFA after this contract.

  • RCrooks

    I am so sick of this crap….if what I saw is true…was offered 10 million over 8 years….that’s American and he lives in Canada so that is like almost 13 million a year which would be about 104 million over 8 years….I realize he might get married and need to feed his family but after 8 years he would probably sign a contract for 6 more years for another 100 million then with inflation….even with taxes that would leave him with 100 million net over his career if he wanted to retire early…..when is enough ever enough?

  • Derian Hatcher

    Prima Donna ~ he sure must “love playing in Toronto”, as long as he gets everything HE wants. If / when the fans turn on the spoiled brat he can wonder why.

  • Moosehead34

    Honestly, I think the Leafs should trade Marner for a #1 defenceman, a D-prospect, and a first round pick, sign Gardner, and extend Tyson Barrie. I’m so sick of these guys, saying how much they want to be a Leaf…but only if you pay me a trillion dollars.

  • Stan Smith

    I wonder what the definition of “far apart” is. If, what we read is true and the Leafs offered Marner $8M last summer after he had a 69 point season, and Marner’s agent is asking for Matthews money at $11.5M, that is $3.5M apart. To me, common sense would state that the Leafs would feel Marner would be worth more than $8M after his 94 point campaign, and that Marner’s side, while asking for Matthews money, never really expected to get it, so shave a million off of either side, leaves them $1.5M apart, or between 10% to 12%.

    To me the biggest stumbling block is the term. If I am Marner, I want to be a UFA as soon as possible. I would be willing to take less, on a 4 year deal to get me there.

    The other hold up could be, with the exception of Aho, no other RFA has signed yet. I could see where any of them could be reluctant to go first. I think once one or two of them sign, the dam breaks and the deals will get done. The only thing that really scares me in all of this is the fact that either side can opt out of the present CBA this September.