Dubas on keeping Nylander, Marner, Matthews: ‘We can, and we will’

Kyle Dubas had some interesting words on the 31 Thoughts Podcast when it came to trying to keep the Maple Leafs’ young core on the team.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas pulled off the biggest signing of the summer when he landed UFA forward John Tavares on July 1, but his work this off-season is far from done.

In fact, with Tavares’ $11-million cap hit now on the books for the next seven seasons, Dubas’ task just got a little tougher with many questioning whether the team can afford to keep its young core intact.

It’s a deep lineup, and one that requires deep pockets. William Nylander, currently a restricted free agent, is due a new deal this summer after the expiration of his entry-level deal. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, meanwhile, each have one season remaining on their respective rookie deals and both became eligible to sign long-term extensions as of July 1.

Tavares. Nylander. Marner. Matthews. Can the Maple Leafs really keep all four?

“We can, and we will,” Dubas told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on this week’s episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast, which will be released Thursday morning.

A weekly deep dive into the biggest hockey news in the world with hosts Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek. New episodes every Thursday.

Earlier in the episode, Dubas gave some insight into how he’ll approach the order of things when it comes to contract negotiations — and it includes plenty of patience.

“I always think that when a player is going to make a commitment of any length, particularly when they’re signing up long-term, that we need to sit with the player and make sure that they player knows where we’re going as a program and what our vision and our plans are so those are discussions that I’ll have with each of the individual players that are due extensions here or are due contracts for next season,” Dubas told Marek and Friedman. “It might go a little bit slower than some people would like but that would be on me to continue to be patient with it and make sure that these guys are not just signing because it’s a long-term contract and it’s obviously a nice pay increase for them, but they want to be here as part of the long-term, they know where we’re going and they’re a full part of that rather than sign a deal and then a year later wonder what the vision is for the program and whether they want to be part of it.

“We’ll be very patient,” he continued. “I wouldn’t expect anything imminent — at least, I don’t think that today as I speak with you guys — on any of the three, but we’ll just start to work towards them and all three of them will be a big part of it as we move ahead.”

Hear the full interview with Dubas on 31 Thoughts: The Podcast, available Thursday morning wherever you download podcasts.

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