Auston Matthews on Mitch Marner: ‘All I’m going to say is we love Mitch’

Photo credit:Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
23 days ago
Auston Matthews was in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards and caught up with the media before the NHL Draft. It’s clear that despite the tumultuous end to the season, Matthews will always have his friends’ back.
Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star asked Matthews his feelings towards all the speculation on Mitch Marner’s future in Toronto, and as expected, it was nothing but love from Matthews.
“All I’m going to say is we love Mitch,” Matthews said of Marner to McGran. “Obviously, there’s a lot of noise revolving around all that, but we love Mitchie. He’s a great person. Great teammate. I can’t speak, highly enough about him.”
Matthews and Marner have been teammates their entire eight-year careers and for the majority of their Maple Leafs’ tenure, have played together on the same line. The two have inseparable chemistry and a knack for each other on the ice. While their regular season success hasn’t translated to anything more than one series win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s obvious if the roster decisions were up to Matthews, he’d want Marner to remain with the Leafs for next season and beyond.
Marner’s name has been littered all throughout the trade boards since the Maple Leafs were eliminated in seven games at the hands of the Boston Bruins. The former No. 4 overall pick recorded three points throughout the postseason, leaving many to believe he should be the fall guy this offseason. He has one season left on his current contract, set to make $10.9 million and holds a full no-movement clause. Regardless of the noise, Marner controls his own destiny.

Will the Maple Leafs run it back?

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on the 32 Thoughts Podcast that he believes the Maple Leafs will be making Marner a contract extension offer this offseason. It would appear to be a 180-degree turn based on what was being speculated on at season’s end.
Will the Maple Leafs allow new head coach Craig Berube get his chance to coach Marner? Their offseason coffee date was littered all over the internet, so we know they’ve met and discussed what’s to come next season. Berube is an intense leader. He expects a lot from his players when it comes to their work ethic and sacrifice for the team, which is what many of the ‘Marner haters’ are pointing to throughout his most recent playoff performance. Perhaps the Leafs see Berube as the perfect coach to fine tune Marner’s game.

Players like Marner are hard to come by

While there’s certainly a chance a trade could transpire ahead of any contract extension being agreed upon, one thing is for sure: Marner is an elite hockey player. He flirts with 100 points most seasons, he plays a very strong two-way game, plays in all situations and as we’ve heard from Matthews, is a great teammate. At the end of the day, Marner is a very hard player to replace.
If Brad Treliving does entertain trade offers and eventually approaches Marner about waiving his no-movement clause, Toronto’s GM can’t miss. He can’t have the Maple Leafs losing a top-line winger and taking a giant step back. Not only will the fans be unhappy, but considering how tight knit the Leafs’ dressing room is and how much Marner is beloved by his teammates, it could have a giant negative ripple effect throughout the entire Maple Leafs’ stratosphere.
At the end of the day, it’s Treliving’s job to try and improve the Maple Leafs, and from all accounts, see what each player on his team could fetch on the trade market. While Marner would bring back a significant return and allow the Leafs to address other holes in their lineup, it’s quite evident with how his teammates feel, including Toronto’s best player, that the preference is to have Marner in the lineup for game one of the 2024-25 season.

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