Frank Seravalli believes there’s a 5 percent chance Marner is a Leaf next season

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
Just like any other year, there’s a slurry of rumours and speculation surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs following another first-round exit. This year, however, the speculation seems to have an extra set of legs. Unlike previous years, where the majority of rumours and wishes were fan and media-driven while former GM Kyle Dubas, former head coach Sheldon Keefe, and President Brendan Shanahan expressed their belief in the group, the Leafs have different personnel at the helm outside of Shanahan. Brad Treliving is heading into his second offseason as general manager, Craig Berube was just announced as the new head coach of the team, and Keith Pelley is barely two months into his tenure as new CEO of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. Between this group’s lack of history with the Leafs’ core players and the reality of one playoff-round win in eight seasons rearing its ugly head, it certainly feels like there’s more of a chance we see some fireworks this summer.
The immediate name that jumps out is Mitch Marner. The 27-year-old former first-round pick is heading into the final year of a six-year contract he signed prior to the 2019-20 season, and with both Auston Matthews and William Nylander now locked up on long-term deals, Treliving is going to have a tough decision to make regarding Marner’s future. In a playoff series against the Boston Bruins that presented a real opportunity for him to shed all of his previous demons of not being able to produce in the playoffs, he once again failed to meet expectations that match the money he makes. With Matthews and Nylander both missing parts of the series, he was held to only one goal and three points in seven games, which was statistically his worst series as a Leaf.
At the Leafs’ end-of-season press conference, Shanahan hinted that not much would be left off of the table in regards to changes that come this offseason, and between Marner’s upcoming contract expiration and his lack of production in this year’s playoffs, it’s safe to say that his name will at minimum be floated in trade discussions this summer. Our resident DailyFaceoff insider Frank Seravalli seems to think the chances of Marner returning next year are especially low. He touched on it on Sunday’s episode of the DFO Rundown:
“I think there’s a five percent chance or maybe even less that he’ll be a Leaf next season.”
He then doubled down on his take on Monday morning when the question was raised on Daily Faceoff Live.
“They have to make big changes, it’s not a choice. Brendan Shanahan said after the season ended, we have to consider everything, everything is on the table, that’s the message. I can’t imagine doing this again for a ninth consecutive season. After spending this much on your core, knowing that it makes zero sense to even enter the season where you are either signing Mitch Marner to an extension or you trade him. To start this year in the final year of his deal makes zero sense. I think there’s a single-digit percent chance that Mitch Marner is in a Maple Leafs’ uniform starting in October,” Seravalli said on May 20.
Shanahan also seemed to hint at the fact that the Leafs would not be moving forward with the “Core Four” structure following the expiration of Marner and John Tavares’ contracts, both set to expire next season. It seems as though if they start the season with Marner, it will be with a new contract extension, perhaps with a verbal agreement that the latter will take a hefty discount on his next contract, but even then, it doesn’t feel like the market has the appetite to run back another season of “Matthews, Marner, Nylander”. All of this is pure speculation at this point, but these discussions will become much more real as we get closer to the draft and free agency.

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