Leafs Re-sign Marner
Various sources this evening report the Toronto Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent winger Mitch Marner to a six-year, $65.38-million contract. The annual average value is $10.893 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Finally, the long wait iover this year’s most-hyped contract negotiation has been resolved. It came in pretty close to what many of us expected, being a hair shy of $11 million per season. The term is slightly less than the Leafs wanted (seven or eight years) but longer than the three years the Marner camp sought.
Fans and pundits will likely debate over whether Marner was worth that much. If he continues putting up 90-plus point seasons. no one will remember what all the fuss was about in a few years. But if his numbers decline, things could get ugly.
Honestly, no one should be surprised Marner got as much as he did. We all knew he, Matthews, and Nylander were going to be expensive re-signings. We also knew Tavares’ signing was going to complicate matters. In today’s NHL, it costs a lot of money to re-sign top young talent. Anyone who’s shocked by all this is living in a fantasy world. This is a business, and it sometimes gets messy and expensive.
According to Cap Friendly, the Leafs now carry three players (Marner, Auston Matthews, and John Tavares) among the league’s top-ten salary-cap hits. Their combined cap hit is over $33.5 million. Toss in William Nylander and they’ve got over $40.5 million tied up in just four players. That’s almost half of this year’s $81.5-million salary cap.
It could also have far-reaching consequences for the Leafs’ cap payroll. Indeed, the effects will be felt as early as next season, as they now have over $66 million invested in just 12 players. They’ll also have Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci to re-sign.
For now, the Leafs’ cap payroll is a league-leading $94.865 million. They’re expected to place the dormant contracts of David Clarkson and Nathan Horton ($10.55 million combined) on long-term injury reserve. Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott (over $3 million combined) are also expected to be placed on LTIR to start the season. Demoting a lower-salaried player or two should provide sufficient wiggle room to become cap compliant when the season opens.
Hyman and Dermott, however, will return at some point this season, meaning the Leafs will have to shed some additional salary to accommodate their eventual return. In other words, general manager Kyle Dubas will continue to walk that fine salary-cap line into the regular season.
The ripples from Marner’s signing will be felt throughout the league, specifically among the clubs with notable restricted free agents of their own yet to re-sign. That includes Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point, Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, and Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser.
It’s believed they were waiting to see what Marner got. Now that they know, perhaps their respective negotiations will be resolved before the end of September.