With the usual caveat that nothing is done until it’s done, it sounds like there’s been some progress in contract talks between the #leafs and RFA Mitch Marner.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 13, 2019
Folks, we’ll take what we can get around these parts and any progress is a good sign.
We are now sitting at a guarded risk of a Marner contract, and that’s worth celebrating depending on if you love 90 point wingers or if you love cap flexibility.
The fact that this movement is coming on the heels of various public negotiating tactics on both sides is probably no surprise. They’ve trying their cases for free in the court of public opinion and the verdict seems to be that an inflated year three in a Marner contract is insane. It’s insane that Marner continues to compare himself to Auston Matthews, and the only people who seem to still not be convinced on that are Paul Marner and those who believe holding an Ontario birth certificate is vital to future success.
On the Leafs side there seems to be pressure to avoid what was regarded as a failed negotiation with William Nylander, and to demonstrate that it is possible to have the entire core signed and ready to play the entire season.
With both sides looking bad, and feeling the sense of urgency from training camp opening, and the season being a few weeks away perhaps we’ll have a modest crescendo of optimism leading up to a full(-ish) roster on October 2nd.
That’s the optimistic take.
The realistic take
The progress that has been made might be as simple as both sides realizing that Dubas’ publicly stated desire for radio silence on the topic is a good one. Having various insiders parrot the most insane aspects of offers without any context to them might be making everyone look bad and at the end of the day, being loved seems important to both Marner and Dubas.
There are still a couple of hoops to jump through, and especially if the deal is looking like a short term, the fallout of whether the NHLPA is calling for an early opening of the CBA is a critical part of that process. If year two of a three year deal is a potentially lost year, that might impact the Leafs willingness to go short term.
There’s also still the barrier of the regular season, which will require the Leafs to begin pulling money off the table as their salary cap situation becomes even more strained, meaning a strong possibility this has to be wrapped up by early October at the latest.
All of this points to if things are going well we might see an announcement early next week, but if things are going poorly it will still reach its end game by October. Hopefully it’s the earlier option as this shit has certainly got old, and even if not all are willing to forgive and forget, I’m sure most are willing to watch the Leafs improve significantly by Marner returning.