Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas navigated his way through one salary-cap maze Tuesday, but he’s about to enter what might wind up being a far more difficult one.
With star centreman Auston Matthews inked to a newly-signed five-year, $58.17-million extension, announced by the team Tuesday, Dubas’ attention now turns to Mitch Marner, the last remaining unsigned piece of the club’s core.
The rookie GM said Tuesday that there won’t be any pressure from the team to re-engage negotiations before the end of the season, as per the Marner camp’s request, but according to the star winger’s agent, talks may be tense when the two sides do reconvene.
“So far they’ve been trying to lowball (Marner),” agent Darren Ferris told the Toronto Star‘s Dave Feschuk Tuesday. “That’s the reason we’ve come to this point.”
In the midst of a dominant campaign that’s seen him amass 20 goals and 63 points in 52 games, leading the Leafs in scoring just as he did last season, all eyes are on the team’s front office to keep the band together despite Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander already accounting for $26.6 million in cap space next season.
With Matthews and Tavares both at or above the $11-million plateau, Ferris seems uninterested in seeing Marner sign for a team-friendly sum.
“Nobody else is taking a discount. And now you’re asking (Marner) to take one again? It’s nonsense,” Ferris told the Star. “Mitch already did them a favour on the entry-level deal.”
The favour in question appears to involve the bonuses doled out to the team’s young stars, according to Ferris. When former GM Lou Lamoriello signed Marner to his entry-level deal, included were the negotiated Schedule A bonuses — worth up to $850,000 annually — but Ferris was told the club would not hand out Schedule B bonuses and their potential additional $2 million, he told Feschuk. Soon after, Matthews was inked to his own entry-level deal, including both Schedule A and Schedule B bonuses.
As it currently stands, the Leafs have $71.9 million in payroll accounted for next season, and a tough task ahead in terms of fitting Marner into the picture. Both sides have said they will resume talks after the season concludes.