The Toronto Maple Leafs went through a rough contract negotiation with William Nylander. A couple of months later they had a smooth one with Auston Matthews.
Kyle Dubas is hoping talks with pending restricted free agent Mitch Marner and his representatives resemble the latter.
The Maple Leafs general manager said during a media availability earlier this week that it’s imperative a Marner deal gets done by July 1.
“If he really is sincere in trying to get Mitch Marner signed before July 1 he’s going to going to have to come out with a pretty good offer right away and everything we hear is either at par or close to the Auston Matthews contract,” Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos said Saturday during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada. “If that doesn’t happen, then I think Mitch Marner owes it to himself to take this to July 1.”
Getting a deal done as early as possible would not only help the team from a salary-cap and off-season-planning perspective, but it would mean avoiding a similar situation to the one involving Nylander, who missed the start of the 2018-19 season while holding out and then struggled to get up to speed for most of the season.
Nylander signed a six-year deal worth slightly less than $7 million per year. Matthews signed a five-year deal worth an average of $11.634 million per year, which was a slightly higher cap hit than the $11 million AAV John Tavares received in free agency.
Marner set new career highs this past season with 26 goals and a team-high 94 points in 82 regular-season games. His 68 assists ranked fourth in the NHL behind Nikita Kucherov, Connor McDavid and Blake Wheeler and Marner added four points in his team’s seven-game playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
As with any complicated high-profile negotiation involving a restricted free agent, the idea of a team presenting Marner with an offer sheet has been floated out there.
“I think what the Toronto Maple Leafs are saying by mentioning that July 1 date is that they’re not going to let anyone else dictate to them about what Mitch Marner’s salary is going to be,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said.
Trade rumours are never too far off in the distance either and Friedman went on to add that if a deal is not reached by July 1 “anything’s in the air.”