The theory that Kings moving Dubois made room for Mitch Marner is worth exploring

Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
19 days ago
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When it comes to players with full no movement clauses the safest bet is that the player will stay put for the duration of their contract. It’s what they negotiated, it puts them where they want to be and often the trade options that get made available publicly make it next to impossible to get a return that is better than just having that player play out their contract. It is also impossible to gauge what is happening as it is in Marner’s best interest to look resistant to a trade and present himself as wanting to return to the Leafs. And it is also in the Leafs’ best interest to show their commitment to the player and state that he is part of their future. It’s an exhausting dance but an important PR tactic for both sides. Quiet simply it’s by acknowledging this that you’ll understand why the Marner talk isn’t going away anytime soon.
That brings us to yesterday. Pierre-Luc Dubois, coincidentally a player with a full no movement clause, was dealt. (I acknowledge the options were likely to accept a trade or be bought out in this situation, but NMCs can be dealt.) The move from the Kings to the Capitals freed up an extra $2.75M of cap space for the Kings pushing them to $23.45M in available space and creating an opening in their top six forward group. It’s not surprising that Kevin Weekes theorized that the Kings could be interested in Mitch Marner during his appearance on TSN Overdrive. The idea makes some sense and while a return to the Maple Leafs for Mitch Marner remains the most likely outcome, taking a few minutes of the day to consider Los Angeles won’t hurt.

Why Marner could be interested

Marner holds all the cards. Whether or not it makes sense for the Kings or Leafs is irrelevant until Marner’s on board. Knowing where Marner will or won’t play is known only to him and his agent, and if the Maple Leafs are lucky, Brad Treliving has been looped in too. The presumed appeal that comes with playing in L.A. is the great weather, there is no shortage of things for rich guy in his 20’s to do and it’s a playoff team that is looking to push itself back into contention. There is the bonus of Marner getting to be “the guy” on the Kings and being a superstar L.A. athlete gets doors opened for him, but hockey players are far enough down the pecking order in Los Angeles that he should be able to enjoy some semblance of a normal life as well. He’d be treated like a demigod rather than a god there.
The Kings can afford to sign Marner to a long term extension that will keep him among the highest paid players in the league. If Marner takes a trade to a team he’d want to be with it opens up the possibility of an 8 year contract.

Why the Kings could be interested

Marner is one of those players who gets talked about as a 100 point player despite never actually reaching 100 points. It could happen in his career but if he’s a 30-goal/90-point guy Marner still is far and away the best offensive weapon.
At the same time, Marner fits style-wise with the defensively responsible forwards that the Kings rely on. Kopitar, Danault, Moore, Advidsson (if he returns) all play strong hockey at both ends of the ice and Marner as a superstar who can penalty kill seems to fit with the Kopitar model of the ideal Kings forward.
Marner’s age also put him in the same range as Kempe and Fiala, so they can keep their group together for a long time if they so desire.
The Kings have the room to not only bring Marner in for this season, but they don’t have a big contract coming up that they’d have to deal with to prevent Marner from signing a long term extension.

Why the Leafs could be interested

The Leafs are insistent they will only move on from Marner if there is a deal that works for the Maple Leafs. The Kings represent a few different opportunities to find deals that work for the Maple Leafs as L.A. has intriguing young players, high draft picks, and enough cap room that the Leafs can have some additional wiggle room this off-season. Whether or not they will get an offer of all those things that remotely come close to the value of even one season of Mitch Marner remains to be seen and maybe Quinton Byfield or Brandt Clarke as potential returns are long shots, but also rightful starting places for Brad Treliving in any discussion involving a player as talented as Marner.
It’s unlikely that the Maple Leafs will “win” a Marner trade, but if trying something different than running back the same group of forwards is a priority and there isn’t a genuine interest in re-signing Mitch Marner, the Kings have the pieces needed to make it work.

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