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Elliotte Friedman provides his latest feel for the Mitch Marner situation and the other unsigned RFAs around the league in today’s Leafs Links.

Friedman discusses the latest in Marner saga, threat of Switzerland (Fan 590)
Elliotte Friedman joined Good Show to discuss the latest in the Marner stalemate.

On whether it was surprising to see the news about Marner’s camp inquiring about training in Zurich:

In this particular case, if you look at the history of the agent who represents Mitch — Darren Ferris, who is based in Toronto — and some of his contract battles with some of the previous teams, several of his clients have either gone over to train or talked about going overseas. One was Josh Anderson in Columbus, one was Athanasiou in Detroit, one was Sam Bennett in Calgary. When this came out the other day, I don’t think anybody saw it as a huge surprise.

The problem right now is there is no deadline. Plus, with Marner and Laine, they’re such big names on big-time Canadian teams. The slightest morsel that gets out is a gongshow because people are just craving any kind of news. I just think that it’s because it is the summer and the slightest morsel of news that gets out there turns into craziness.

The thing about the Marner thing that is really fascinating to me is that I’ve had people tell me they don’t think they’re really that far off on a short-term deal. I’ve had other people telling me the team is really starting to get fed up with the way this is going. We’ll see how it goes.

On whether there is frustration setting in on the Leafs‘ side:

To me, just my read on it is that if there is a frustration, it is that it has been going on for 14 months, and are we really that close? Again, I’ve had people tell me that they think, on a three-year deal, they don’t think the two sides are that far apart. But I’m not sure that that is really what the Leafs would want — to do this again in three years. On a long-term deal, I think they are not really that close. This could blow up in my face tomorrow, but I don’t think they are.

To me, I think the frustration is that if you want to do a long-term deal, they just haven’t moved anywhere. I think that the organization is really frustrated by that — that it isn’t going anywhere. The other thing, too, is that I just think there is a really feeling with the Leafs that what happened with Nylander, they’re not doing that again. They’re not going through that again. They are not signing a guy on December 1st. I just think there is a lot of frustration because of all of that.

I’m sure Marner has to be frustrated, too. This can’t be… The other teams that have dealt with him this summer, they don’t think he wants to leave Toronto. It’s got to be frustrating to him, too. I’m sure he’s looking at all of this like, “Ugh, I wish this was over.”

On whether the rest of the unsigned RFAs are waiting on Marner’s deal:

We saw a guy sign today. I know he is not one of the biggest guys, but Colin White did sign. I certainly think that that was positive news. I do think a lot of people are waiting for Marner. I do think that. And we’ll see. The other thing you don’t know is — remember a couple of years ago, Pastrnak waited right until the last minute and then he signed. He admitted later that he wasn’t going to miss any time. If you’ve heard him ever talk about it since then, he talks about how lucky he is to make the money he does and he is good with that. I think the thing about that is — how many guys are like that?

The problem with talking about this right now: What are you missing if you don’t sign now? You’re not missing anything. Now, let’s see what happens when you go into camp. Let’s see what happens when we get closer to the first games. But how many Pastrnaks are there? Guys who are sitting there and saying, privately, I am not going to tell you this and I am not going to miss any time, but I’m going to see if waiting a little bit longer gets me a little bit more.” I suspect there are some guys like that. I don’t know who, but I suspect there are some guys like that.

If you take a look at this, the McDavid deal — and no one is going to argue McDavid isn’t worth every penny he is making; if anything, he is probably underpaid — moved the line. All of a sudden Draisatl goes from $6.5 million to $8.5 million. The Jack Eichel deal — that moved the line at $10.5 million. All of these guys are like, “If he is $10.5 million, I should be in that range, too.” The Matthews deal — that moved the line. I think everybody is kind of waiting there to see what deal moves the line this time because that will benefit the rest of us. Who is the big guy that is going to go first?

If you were to pick a guy who a lot of people think will go first, it is Brayden Point, but that might be a bridge deal, so how much is that going to change anything?

On whether the Leafs have anything else in the works besides settling the Marner contract:

I haven’t heard of anything else. I am sure they are always looking at things. I haven’t heard of anything else. I don’t know how they would necessarily be able to do anything else.

The strategy that they’ve got with the long-term injuries is very fascinating. The other thing, too, is if he signs after the start of the season. We saw this with Nylander. The cap hit goes up for this year. That has got a few teams kind of worried. I know of at least one team out there, and they didn’t really confirm it and they didn’t really deny it, either, that passed up another move because they have an RFA. They were like, “If our guy signs after the season, that cap hit is going to go up this season and we don’t know what exactly the amount of room we have is.” I think that is the other thing Toronto has to do with. Let’s say, for example, he signs for 3×8. If he signs after the season starts, that eight is more this year. You have to deal with that, too.

On whether Jake Gardiner returning is still a possibility and if he could be waiting on the Leafs:

I don’t think he is waiting on the Leafs. The other thing, too, is if you take a look at where it stands right now with them… if he is going to take a short-term deal for another contract, at best now, he is a third-pairing defenseman in Toronto. With both Rielly and Barrie here, he is going to be the third D at best on the power play. If he says, “I love it here and want to play here,” that is one thing, but if he is looking to super charge his market value, I don’t know if playing here does that.

I’ve heard the rumours that he is waiting for a team to make a move. I do think there is some interest in him. I think Arizona has had some interest in him. I do wonder about Buffalo. If they do make the Ristolainen move, I wonder if that is a possibility. I just don’t know if it’s going to be as big as he hoped for it to be.

Again, unless he really says he loves Toronto and wants to come back here, if he is trying to jumpstart his value, I don’t see the spot for him in this lineup.

Mirtle on negotiations between Marner and the Leafs and more (TSN1050)
James Mirtle joined TSN1050 to discuss the ongoing stalemate between the Leafs and Marner.

I know that the Leafs have really tried hard to get something done and they’ve been very aggressive. They haven’t just been sitting back and waiting for September to come, but it’s not done yet. We are getting awfully close to when training camps are set to open. It’s really up in the air right now if Mitch Marner is going to be there or not.

I think the Leafs have tried really hard to get something done and I think they’ve been fair. The numbers that I have heard seem relatively close to what should get a deal done. This one is really tough to call. I think that what makes the most sense here is for both sides to compromise on a bridge deal and then you revisit this again in two or three years when Mitch Marner has played a few more years, the cap has gone up some, the Leafs have more salary-cap space, and you can give him that long-term, really big-ticket contract Marner wants.

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