It’s been somewhat widely reported for a while now that if Mitch Marner can’t come to an agreement with the Leafs soon he’s going to head overseas to suit up for another team. In the case of Marner’s agent Darren Ferris, this has been a pretty classic scheme from his playbook, with him going down the same route for his clients in past years when there’s been a contract stalemate. Unsurprisingly, he’s used TSN’s Darren Dreger as the conduit for getting his message out there, which I suppose is meant to put fear into the Leafs and their fans and turn up the pressure to get a deal done.
“Unless something changes, I believe his plan is to go to Switzerland in the 3rd week of this month” @DarrenDreger tells @heylandsberg and @dfeschuk the latest on Mitch Marner's contract negotiations with the Maple Leafs. ✈️🇨🇭@TSNHockey @TSN1050Radio pic.twitter.com/Q6NXPY11PB
— First Up (@FirstUp1050) September 9, 2019
At first glance, for most people this probably drums up a few questions, most notably “Can Mitch Marner really go play for the Zurich Lions instead of the Leafs this season?” The answer is technically “yes”, but in reality “absolutely not”. There is no chance Marner signs a real contract to play with a Swiss League team in the coming weeks, and the reasons aren’t hard to come by. First off, the highest salary for a player in the Swiss League is less than $500k, so it’s difficult to picture Marner going away from the Leafs for a full season and missing out on $8-9 million in earnings because they’re a few hundred thousand apart in negotiations. I mean, I’d admire him taking a stand like that, but it’s an absurd thing to do when you’re trying to put as much cash in your pocket as possible. Secondly, this would essentially eliminate the offer sheet scare entirely, as Marner couldn’t come back to the NHL with another club without clearing waivers. We don’t know if that was ever close to a real threat anyway, but it would really be put to bed in this case.
Lastly, Leafs management simply doesn’t care about this as a negotiating tactic. If I can lay out these quick tidbits on the situation just by browsing the internet and looking at precedent, you can bet they have every corner of this scenario covered in-depth. These aren’t the Jay Feaster Flames. It’s for these reasons Kyle Dubas made it clear in his interview rounds last week that this supposed threat from Marner’s camp to go play in Switzerland doesn’t make a lick of difference in the team’s approach. With the way the Leafs are set up cap-wise, they have Marner boxed in so perfectly that I’d say their level of worry is lower than at any time during the summer, even though the optics of this dragging out might cause others to panic.
Dubas to @timandsid on Marner's camp exploring practice opportunities in Switzerland: “I don’t worry about that… I don’t think we’re going to be moved by the Zurich Lions, frankly. No offence to the Zurich Lions.”
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) September 3, 2019
For folks who follow the team closely, this negotiation is interesting to keep an eye on, and the way it shakes out could have major implications on the way the Leafs’ window stays open in the coming years. But whether you’re nervous about this contract stalemate, or just plain tired of hearing about it, be aware that one thing that isn’t going to tip it in any way is this supposed upcoming trip to Switzerland. At most it will serve as some practice time and a quick photo op for people to freak out over.