The Leafs Nation’s staff roundtable on Mitch Marner

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
TLN Staff
26 days ago
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Mitch Marner’s ongoing contract negotiations and potential trade status are the most compelling items in the Toronto Maple Leafs ecosystem. You’re probably waiting for a resolution and frankly, so are we!
The Leafs Nation staff members weighed in on a few items surrounding Marner, what his legacy in Toronto looks like and a few potential suggestions for the superstar winger if he’s looking for a way out — Marner has given no indication that he wants to leave the Maple Leafs organization.

Do you think the Maple Leafs should trade Mitch Marner and if so, why?

Shane Seney: I think they should be seeing what they can get for him in a situation that could make sense for Marner. He wants to remain a Maple Leaf and knows the history of the franchise better than anyone but having the passion hasn’t translated to playoff results. I don’t think it’s a trade you just make to say “hey look, we made changes”. Having Berube behind the bench could do wonders for his game. If he’s still a Leaf in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline without a contract extension, there’s going to be a lot of noise.
Michael Mazzei: The Leafs would be making a huge mistake if they go into next season with Mitch Marner still on the roster. Yes it won’t be easy to move his contract because he has the final say in this process, but the temperature in this city is at a fever pitch with this core and the outside noise will not go away through the entire season if they drags on. I know we have been saying how critical each season is for a few years now, but this next one is so important. The last thing they need is a huge distraction weighing over them the entire season. It’s in the best interest of everyone to get Marner traded.
Alex Hobson: I think they need to have a serious conversation with him about how his tenure has gone with the Leafs so far and whether undergoing another season in this market with contract negotiations hanging over his head is going to be feasible for him. It’s not so much about having to move on from Marner the player as it is about moving on from having to commit $12.5 million to a player at the forefront of a failed roster philosophy who’s struggled the most with the bright lights. As much as we all want it to work out here, I think it’s better for both sides if they explore trades this summer.
Arun Srinivasan: You can make the case for both sides of the argument, really, which is the Coward’s Route. Marner is a top-tier playmaker who is capable of Selke-level defense, who genuinely wants to make it work with the Maple Leafs. His scoring dried up during the playoffs but he was also David Pastrnak’s primary defender. It’s really incumbent upon Marner: if he’s had enough of the incessant criticism from fans and media (we’re just doing our jobs, Mitch!) and wants to play elsewhere, Toronto should still be able to extract real return on value, which is a gross way to discuss the fruits of one’s labour. It’s contingent upon Marner, we get the sense he doesn’t want to leave, so he ought to stay unless there’s a clearly advantageous deal being offered.
Jon Steitzer: For the past few seasons you could have asked me this question and the answer would have been yes. It has less to do with playoff performance, as we can see from the Finals, star players can be shut down, but more to do with the Leafs committing too much money to the wing when they have more pressing needs on defence, in goal, and even at centre. Good wingers are a luxury, not where you should commit your money.
That said, Marner holds all the cards that can make trading him very difficult. Running him back for a year is better than forcing a bad trade, though that’s going to reflect poorly on management.

Where do you think the most logical destination for Marner is?

Seney: Nashville makes sense as a place Marner could be open too. Vegas doesn’t have cap space so that will be a complicated deal but could be somewhere Marner is open to playing. I think he’d want to go to a winner and avoid the San Jose’s and Chicago’s of the world. If I was betting on one team, I’d put money on Vancouver.
Mazzei: Vegas seems to make a lot of sense because they have the pieces Brad Treliving would be interested in. They are up against in with cap space but this is a team always willing to pull the trigger on a blockbuster so they will find a way to get it done. I would be happy with a return centred around Shea Theodore and they can throw in Logan Thompson and Nicolas Roy. Plus, Vegas seems like a place Marner would be willing to waive his NMC for because players there seem to love living there, it’s a tax free state, and the team is always in win-now mode. It’s hard not think this makes a lot of all parties involved.
Hobson: From a fit perspective, teams like New Jersey, San Jose, Nashville, Utah all stand out to me, but of course, the fit doesn’t matter if Marner doesn’t want to go there. I think taking both of these things into consideration, Nashville would make the most sense. They have goaltending options, a solid prospect pool, and Nashville is a fun city with a fraction of the media pressure and expectations
Srinivasan: Toronto notwithstanding, Vegas seems like a cool place for Marner to go. Vegas is cap strapped but would also be offloading a ton of contracts and assets to acquire a player of Marner’s pedigree. You get the sense that Marner would want to play in a major East coast market but it’s nearly impossible to see the Maple Leafs trading Marner within the division, so the New York Rangers seem like an ideal, non-Toronto destination. If the Hockey Capital of the World was scathing, the media capital of the world is an entirely different game, but Marner could also emerge as a sub-Mark Messier tier demigod if he leads the Rangers to a Cup.
Steitzer: There are no shortage of logical destinations for Mitch Marner it comes down to where he wants to play. If he wants to chase a payday, there are likely teams that will re-sign him above Matthews’ cap hit. If he wants a smaller market, a fun place to be away from the rink, a team on the cusp of a championship, etc, he’ll have options.
If I’m going to throw some teams out there, I’ll start with L.A. largely because I’d love to see the Leafs land Quinton Byfield as part of the return but also because the Kings love defensively minded forwards.
Most players seem to want to be in the East, so maybe the Rangers are the answer and there are certainly a number of appealing trade targets for the Leafs there as well.

How would you assess Marner’s legacy with the Maple Leafs or what stands out to you the most about his tenure in Toronto?

Seney: What stands out the most for me is how much his game falls off in the late stages of a playoff series. Regular season- he’s one of the best players on the planet but when the going gets tough, Marner seemed to leave everyone wanting more.  A great teammate, wonderful person, loves being a Leaf, but the time has come for change. He’s an all time great Maple Leaf in less than a decade so if somehow ends up sticking around he’ll put himself in the conversation for the second best Leaf of all time. One spot behind Auston Matthews.
Mazzei: Marner will go down as a divisive player in this town. There will be some who will marvel at his talent, the fact he has remained a productive player throughout his time here during the regular season, and all of the records he broke along the way. There si be plenty say his reputation was forever tarnished by negotiations went for his second contract and the fallout from that moment. But in the end, Marner will be best remembered for not getting it done when it mattered the most. He made have been able to put up points during the playoffs, but the stat going around of how he has only had five assists between Games 5-7 of the last five playoff runs is inexcusable for a player of his talent level and what he is paid to do. It has what spoke to the fan’s frustration of the teams roster construction because it was under the basis that the core four would be enough to push them over the hump. But with Marner’s never ending struggles in the clutch combined with his contract and how he got that in the first place, it’s hard to argue that his reputation by the majority of fan bases is not well earned.
Hobson: He will go down as one of the most polarizing players of all time, if nothing else. He’s without a doubt one of if not the most skilled player I’ve ever seen play for the Leafs and was my favourite player for a while, but when you play in a market like Toronto, the results matter more than the individual accolades, and unfortunately, Marner’s lack of production in playoff games, specifically ones on the brink of advancing or elimination, will overshadow that. He’s a great player and somebody who I think everyone would prefer to see in Toronto if the day they lift the cup finally comes, but at 27 years old, he’s no longer a kid and some tough decisions will outweigh the legacy of what he’s done so far
Srinivasan: Mitch Marner will be viewed as one of the best Maple Leafs of his generation who didn’t command the same adulation reserved for Mats Sundin. Fans will remember his dramatic playoff drop-off unfortunately and it’s a complex legacy he leaves behind. He’s a clear homegrown superstar the franchise sorely lacked, his ability to pull off dazzling highlight reel goals enthralled the fan base, it just seemed like he was capable of an extra gear that never arrived. So really, it’s a mirror into one views Marner personally: do you chastise him for never ascending to the next tier of superstardom while hovering as a consistent 90-point threat, with lead penalty kill duties? If Marner comes back and eventually leads the Maple Leafs to a Cup, one statue won’t be enough, you can rename Dundas Street after him.
Steitzer: He’s a bit of the Adam Oates to Auston Matthews’ Brett Hull, and that’s not a bad legacy. That’s the one that will stand the test of time and while Paul Marner, Darren Ferris, and Mike Babcock have all done a lot to complicate Mitch’s legacy, he’ll generally be remembered fondly.
Marner constantly taking on the son/little brother role to veterans like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Matt Martin, etc. will be the funniest part of how he’s remembered if he is departing.

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