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Dubas: Marner contract negotiation hindering Leafs' ability to address other concerns

·NHL Editor
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  • Mitchell Marner
    Mitchell Marner
    Canadian ice hockey player
  • Kyle Dubas
    Hockey executive
  • Jake Gardiner
    Jake Gardiner
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Andreas Johnsson
    Andreas Johnsson
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|

Now that the NHL Draft is over, it’s time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to focus solely on solving the Mitch Marner puzzle as soon as possible. Kyle Dubas hinted at the urgency, saying that other items of focus, like the possibility of bringing back Jake Gardiner, are “impossible” to address right now.

Signing the 22-year-old RFA to a contract will be the first domino piece to fall, allowing other moves to be possible for the Leafs. Contracts for players like Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are close to being finalized, but the uncertainty of Marner’s cap hit is looming.

Plans for Gardiner can’t be sorted until the Leafs have clear focus on their finances, and only the negotiation with Marner will allow for that. And there’s no promise that Marner will be signed before July 1, when Gardiner is free to sign a new deal on the open market.

The Leafs made a big play to bulk their wallet by trading Patrick Marleau on Saturday, freeing up $6.25M more in cap space to work with Marner.

Their leading scorer over the last two seasons will be able to hear offer sheets from other teams this week, though it’s still difficult to imagine a scenario where they wave goodbye to the hometown kid, who is bursting with promise.

However, there is the possibility both sides can’t find a dollar value that matches, and Dubas admitted that there’s no guarantee the Leafs will match a signed offer sheet.

Marner
Mitch Marner is the top priority for Toronto. (Getty)

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