After a contract standoff that spanned almost the entire summer, Marner and the Maple Leafs agreed to terms on a six-year, $65.358-million deal Friday evening that will see the now-former RFA count for $10.893 million against the salary cap through 2024-25.
Less than 24 hours later, the 22-year-old has joined the team at training camp in Paradise, Nfld., where he and general manager Kyle Dubas addressed the media for the first time since signing on the dotted line.
“I’m excited to be part of this team,” Marner said Saturday, adding he knew throughout negotiations that he didn’t want to miss any training camp. “I’m happy to be here, happy to be done all that process, and looking forward to helping this team.”
Both Marner and Dubas acknowledged an integral in-person meeting they had together on Thursday, which Dubas said was “a real positive in the process” for both sides.
“I’m excited that we can know that we’re all going to be in this together for an extended period and I think that should be exciting not only for our players and staff but also for our fanbase,” Dubas said.
Marner’s new deal means the drafted-and-developed core of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Marner, along with 2018 UFA prize John Tavares, remains intact until 2023-24, giving the young club a solid window of Stanley Cup contention.
“Now it’s time to get to work and have fun with it,” said Marner.
A few other members of the Maple Leafs spoke with the media earlier Saturday, clearly happy to be able to put the ongoing contract questions to rest.
“We’re all fired up to have him and happy that it took — what was it, one practice day into training camp, so that’s great,” said William Nylander, whose own negotiations stretched right up to the Dec. 1 deadline last year.
Head coach Mike Babcock told reporters he hadn’t spoken to Marner all summer so as to avoid potentially getting in the way of negotiations, drawing from the experience of watching last year’s Nylander negotiations from the sidelines.
“I’m just glad it’s all over. I look forward to giving him a big hug when I see him,” Babcock told reporters Saturday. “When players are going through these negotiations, as a coach you just stay out of it. I haven’t talked to Mitch in forever, because you just don’t want to get involved or put any pressure on the guy.”
“We’re all happy for him, we’re happy to have him back to kind of get this thing going,” Auston Matthews said Saturday. “We have a goal in mind and we’ve got everybody on board now, so let’s play hockey.”