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It’s August, and the NHL’s RFA scene is virtually unchanged as we eagerly await the Mitch Marner domino to fall. When that eventually happens, there will be a better understanding of the market ceiling, allowing unsigned star forwards like Brayden Point, Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Laine to fall into place.
The Athletic’s James Mirtle added more insight on what’s holding up the Marner negotiations in a recent post, and it involves a counter offer that would become the richest bridge deal in NHL history.
It’s known that contract length has been a major conversation piece between both parties as the Leafs understandably want to latch onto Marner for a max-term deal. Marner’s representatives are set on something comparable to teammate Auston Matthews, who signed a five-year, $11.634-million deal in February.
If the Leafs ink Marner to a five-year contract, Matthews, Marner and Nylander would all become UFAs in the same offseason, which would be a recipe for disaster. So scratch that. With Marner’s camp uninterested in an eight-year deal, and the Leafs unwilling to entertain a one- or two-year deal (too short), or a four-year deal (would lead Marner directly into free agency), the Leafs are left with three options: three years, six years or seven years.
And it appears, at least for now, that Marner’s camp have their sights set on a shorter term.
“There has been talk for ages now about the Leafs’ making a max-term offer, some time ago, at eight years and more than $10-million a season. Giving away that many UFA years, however, was a no-go for the Marner camp.
They apparently countered with three years at around a $10-million annual value, which would be the richest bridge deal in NHL history – by quite a bit. (Consider that Nikita Kucherov’s three-year bridge back in 2016 was for just under $4.8-million AAV.)”
As outrageous as that number may sound, Toronto is still eager to make it happen. Mirtle added that Toronto has been “aggressive in trying to get this done” and are offering in the range of “just under $9-million to roughly $11-million per season, depending on the term.”
All of these discussions are under a heavy cloak of secrecy, and there’s no confirmation for the timeline on these latest speculations. Regardless, Leafs fans can either celebrate, or sound the alarm, as it seems Kyle Dubas is prepared to keep Mitch Marner in Toronto whatever the cost might be.
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