As the hockey world waits for Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs - or another daring team - to make a decision on his impending new contract, teammates, both current and from the past appear confident he’ll remain in town.
Marner remains a restricted free agent and is Toronto’s top offseason priority, but a new deal hasn’t come to fruition yet, stirring rumours that another club will present the 22-year-old with an offer sheet.
Leafs star and Marner’s linemate, John Tavares, remains confident that the team’s leading scorer will be back in the blue and white this fall.
"Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about the offer sheets this year, and it seems more so than other years,” Tavares said to TSN. “But I think obviously the organization and [general manager Kyle Dubas] recognize how important Mitch is to the team and have set up the team and the cap very well to be prepared for anything that comes our team's way. I think we know how much Mitch loves being here and wants to be a part of it here. There's no doubt in my mind that something will get done here eventually."
Tavares raved about Marner’s ability to play in all scenarios and noted that his teammate isn’t the only high-impact restricted free agent on the market.
Marner, for what it’s worth, attempted to defer all questions regarding his contract to his agent, Darren Ferris, while he prepared for his charity event, the Marner All-Star Invitational. When asked Thursday if he’d report to training camp without a new deal, he responded “probably not,” leaving some to believe the situation was more dire than it already was.
Former teammate Nazem Kadri, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on July 1, and reflected on his tenure with the Maple Leafs earlier Friday, seemed to indicate that Toronto must ensure the winger returns.
“He's worked extremely hard to get to this point. The city of Toronto loves him, and, in my opinion, I think needs him. Whatever happens, happens. But you certainly can't take away from what he's done in his first three years,” Kadri said, via NHL.com.
Marner has led the Maple Leafs in scoring the past two seasons and you can see why his camp is waiting for the right deal. Position value matters, as does a hard salary cap, so it can also be argued why a new contract hasn’t been signed yet. In any event, the rest of the hockey world will continue to wait for Marner and the Maple Leafs to take action, unless another party does so instead.
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