The one last thing to do this offseason for GM Kyle Dubas and the Leafs’ front office is to re-sign Mitch Marner and it looks like there is still a lengthy timeline ahead.
While most Restricted Free Agents around the league are still waiting to be re-signed, the one that is getting the most attention is Marner and that is because of the constant drama this negotiation has been surrounded by.
Multiple reports on the involvement of certain parental parties in the negotiations and how far off the demands are still, it’s natural for this to take forever and will eventually lead past the summer.
It doesn’t help that the Columbus Blue Jackets have reportedly talked to Marner’s camp about the possibility of an offer sheet coming their way — but again, demands were too far off and the team refused to go that route. Every week there is a new narrative in the Marner negotiations and this week it’s just constant dread of the never-ending talks.
Because, unless I’m reading this wrong, there exists a fundamental difference in the perception of value/term between the two sides and it’s going to make getting a negotiated settlement very difficult. OK, back to vacation. That bike isn’t going to ride itself to town.
— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 15, 2019
Coming from the most reliable voice in all of hockey is a massive deal, no more small rumours about what other teams are doing coming from untrustworthy sources.
McKenzie goes into brief detail on how the contract talks are going on and it does not look good.
According to him, the Leafs are at a point that they are somewhat wishing for an offer sheet to come in from another team. Forcing a decision depending on the compensation that they would acquire for not matching the offer. It would put a concrete timeline on the negotiation and not let this go on any longer.
This is especially interesting since Dubas stated that Marner was a priority at the end of the regular season, having learned from the Nylander negotiations and how it was both the player and management’s fault that the player had a poor season due to not going through the regular process of a training camp. Any sort of offer sheet would put both the player and team at ease, making sure that Marner would be ready for next season, for whatever team he’s playing for.
No matter what the ending result would be, having the player ready for the 2019-20 season should be valuable to Marner’s camp.
The current situation is a grim one. Both sides are reportedly still at complete different ends in valuation, according to McKenzie, and that is not somewhere the Leafs want to be.
Through all the rumoured requests of Marner, it does seem that the asks for his next deal are on the extremely-high side. Wanting less term but also around the same amount of dollars as some of the best players in his generation, might be just a tad unreasonable.
But also from the team’s point-of-view, it would benefit them to go under the valuation since there is a limited amount of cap space left for the player. With about $9.5-million (after Nathan Horton heads to LTIR), the Leafs have that amount to work with. They already made cap-benefitting moves with the Zaitsev and Marleau trades, but are still left with the player wanting more than they can realistically offer.
A “fundamental difference” is most likely the worst phrasing that this negotiation could have, giving the impression that even meeting in the middle between the two demands is unlikely.
The best case scenario for everyone is that another team comes swooping in with an offer sheet and fans, the team, and the player, will see an end to this endless parade of contract and valuation talks.
Save us all, other 30 NHL franchises.