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It’s August and that usually means a completely dead period in the world of the NHL, but this summer, it’s filled with contract speculations for young restricted free agents waiting to sign their second contract.

As of right now, it’s fairly quiet on all fronts, but Chris Johnston was able to do the Toronto media rounds and give a slight update on Mitch Marner’s current contract situation.

The 22-year-old winger’s next contract seems to be all that Leafs fans are able to talk about as of late. Luckily, there’s even new things to argue about.

According to Johnston, there is no desire from either side to let this ride out into the regular season and especially let this go until the signing deadline of December 1st. Looking at how that affected William Nylander’s season last year, having Marner miss training camp and sign a lucrative contract to have a disappointing season due to lack of fitness would be worst case scenario for the young forward.

As it has been speculated for a while now, Marner will most likely end up with a contract that doesn’t represent any comparable players around the league for a winger coming out of their entry-level contract.

Depending on what the term is, the deal will range from either a $8-million or up to a $11-million cap hit — the former being a term around three years, and the latter a six or seven-year deal.

Whether it’s a bridge or buying some unrestricted free agency years, the overall sense is that Marner will no doubt be in Toronto to start the regular season in October.

Johnston continues to say that he believes that the Leafs have recently moved closer to what Marner and his agent, Darren Ferris, has been requesting. That could either mean an eventual overpayment and yet another contract negotiation that doesn’t give any benefit for the team’s future cap structure.

No matter what happens, Marner remaining a Leaf signals the philosophy that GM Kyle Dubas and the rest of the Leafs’ management wants to spread throughout their team. To give elite forwards the contracts that they deserve and try to find discounts or deals for defencemen — all-in on offence.

Marner is coming out of a season where he scored 94 points next to one of the best centres in the entire league, while Matthews is able to score goals at whim and Nylander is an elite play-driving winger — these players make sense to keep together and try to find success with.

They will be able to make the money work. With the David Clarkson acquisition and about $10.5-million wrapped-up in Long-Term Injury Reserve to extend their cap ceiling, Marner will be able to sign a deal that should work for both the team and the player.

This saga might be done before the season starts and the present core of the Leafs will be signed for long-term — no more contract sagas and no more worrying about negotiations.

Finally we can just start thinking about the game itself.


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