Mitch Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

The insiders return from summer vacation to offer their updates (or lack thereof) on the Mitch Marner situation, while Leafs players take part in informal skates a week away from training camp in today’s Leafs links.

Elliotte Friedman weighs in on RFAs and ideal contracts (Sportsnet 960)
Friedman provided his latest on the Marner situation on Sportsnet 960, reporting a three-year deal is on the table:

I think there is a three-year deal on the table right now, but the numbers… It’s not going to be 3×4 anymore for those guys. I think the problem with that situation is what the third year is because, for example, say it’s a three year deal and the third year is over $10 million. And then the player takes the qualifying offer and he walks right to unrestricted free agency. Why would teams want to do that?

On whether we’ll see multiple holdouts into the season:

Last year, there was one, and that was a team that wanted to win the Stanley Cup. If Toronto wasn’t a good team last year, they probably don’t sign him. But they were good. They had dreams. Look what happened — he had a nightmare year.

I think it is going to come down to, a) how much you think you need the player, and b) how worried are you about how that player is going to perform?

I had a couple of players tell me that the way Nylander played last year hurt those guys who might be willing to try the same thing this year. Teams are going to look at that and say, “Nylander is a really good player. He couldn’t catch up.”

LeBrun on Marner and thoughts on remaining RFAs (TSN1050)
Back from summer vacation, Pierre Lebrun provided his sense of where things stand in the Marner negotiation on Overdrive.

I have had a couple of teams tell me in the past couple of days that no team has worked harder this summer to get their guy done than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some teams are doing the wait and see thing because they don’t want to go first. The Leafs have been all over the Marner camp.

On whether it’s term or money that is the sticking point with Marner:

80% of [the NHL’s RFAs] are stuck on term… If you want to talk about why teams are mad at Toronto, they hate the five-year precedent. They either want to go long or short, but not five.

I think the Marner one is not on term. The two sides have talked about a bunch of different years and both sides would do a three-year deal. But we know why they haven’t signed: They can’t agree on money.

On the Marner situation hanging over Kyle Dubas’ head:

This is more of a Kyle Dubas team than ever. Puck-moving D, offensive philosophy — all of those things, his blueprint is all over this. Once he gets Marner done, a lot of things open up for Kyle Dubas in terms of his vision for this team. Right now, it is a major hangup. If they start the season without him, it’s just going to be a gong-show, to be honest, given the market. There is no other way to put it.

On the narrative that the Leafs couldn’t get started on Marner until Nylander was done last summer:

One takeaway with Dubas today that caught my eye, and think of it what you will, and I am guilty as anyone else of pushing this narrative last year that the Leafs weren’t that interested in signing Marner last year because they wanted to get Nylander done first because of the domino effect. Dubas completely reset the narrative and said that is not true. The first meeting he took as Leafs GM in May 2018 was with Darren Ferris, Mitch Marner’s agent. Things worked out the way they did for whatever reason they did, but he wants to make it clear that narrative that has gained traction over time [is wrong]. They were interested. It just didn’t happen.

Barrie’s transition to Toronto eased by familiar faces (TSN)
New Leaf Tyson Barrie met with the media after an informal skate, discussing the trade to Toronto and potentially pairing up with Jake Muzzin.

I was definitely a bit surprised. I hadn’t really thought about it. I knew my name had been out there for three or four years. When it actually happened, you’re definitely surprised. I didn’t know Toronto was in the mix. To be able to come to a spot like this, it kind of took the sting away from being traded — to be able to go from a good team to another really good team.

On his excitement about arriving in Toronto:

Coming into a team with such a passionate fan base and then a team that is going in the right direction and has such a good chance to win, just being able to jump in and be a part of something they’ve been building for a while now is such a cool opportunity. I can tell already just being around here that it’s such a professional atmosphere. All of the guys kind of have one goal. It’s cool to be in a one-track mind like that.

On transitioning from the West to the Eastern Conference:

I’ve been playing in the Central for the last eight years and that has been a notoriously good division. It is tight checking. This division, all of the teams are getting better and they have a lot of skill. It’s maybe a bit more open here — that’s what guys say — but I guess we’ll find out.

On potentially pairing up with Muzzin:

I love playing with Muzz. I played with him at the World Championships maybe four or five years ago now and we won. He was a pleasure to play with. He is obviously a very poised, smart guy. He has a lot of experience. And he talks a lot. I’m looking forward to getting together with him.

I think we might try that out and see how it goes. Hopefully, I can fit in nicely there. But it’s up to the guys up top. I’ve just got to go and play and wherever they fit me in, they fit me in.

Chris Johnston on the latest (or lack thereof) with Marner (Sportsnet 590)
Chris Johnston joined Sportsnet Tonight to discuss the lack of progress in the Marner negotiations.

I do know there have been some conversations between the two sides. It’s not as though it’s radio silence between the two sides at this point. I would say that one of the reasons we haven’t heard too much is because I don’t think a lot has happened. It’s tough in these kinds of negotiations where clearly you have parties who know exactly where the other side stands. They’ve been having these discussions for over a year now about the possibility about an extension, but there hasn’t been a deadline. Now that we are into September, whether it’s the Marner situation or Tkachuk or Connor or the list of RFAs we talked about, the focus will be — can something get done to have these guys in camp?

Obviously, I would say just given the number of RFAs, they aren’t all going to be signed before September 12th, but I think that’s at least a little bit of a deadline that can push two sides together. We’ll see what the Leafs and Marner’s camp can come up with. I think this is a really important stretch of days. It doesn’t change anything if he misses the first day of camp and it doesn’t impact the Leafs’ salary cap troubles — there is no sort of tangible thing that is missed if he is not there — but the team doesn’t want that distraction. No one wants to go down the road that they went with William Nylander last year. It didn’t hurt them on the ice and they were still in a good position when he signed on December 1st, but it clearly hurt the player individually.

In a season now where we know the Leafs are clearly in win-now mode — and they lost a lot of players this offseason in part because of where they are at with the salary cap — there is a different urgency around this organization. I would expect you are going to see a concerted effort to get him signed and in camp by September 12th. If that doesn’t happen, all bets are off. We are then looking at the regular season. It is probably best for everyone if this gets done. I think you’ll start hearing about more of a push behind the scenes in the next week and a half here.

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