Does Mitch Marner still BeLeaf ?

It wasn't quite what anyone had hoped for in Leaf land, fresh off a William Nylander contract stalemate last summer. Mitch Marner was now talking about playing in Zurich,Switzerland this year while speculation runs rampant about what the key issues between him and the Maple Leafs factually were. Those issues were more or less obvious. Toronto Maple Leaf management didn't want both of star Center Auston Mathews and star winger Mitch Marner becoming free agents at the same time.The Maple Leafs were already in trouble in offsetting years, so they wanted Mitch to sign for long term. But as the term gets longer, the asking price rises at the same time.

Toronto couldn't afford for Mitch Marner to come back from playing from behind in form, the way William Nylander did. Nylander never hit his full stride last year and it hurt the Maple Leafs in the playoffs. If William Nylander had been 100 percent on his game, the Maple Leafs could have been playing the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup finals last year. Not having a 100 percent Mitch Marner is very plausibly an even worse outcome next year. You see, the young Maple Leafs weren't getting a lot of  playoff experience, except at losing to arch enemy former Leaf Tukka Rask and the Boston Bruins in 7 games.

The Kyle Dubas leveraging points on Mitch Marner? Kucherov of Tampa Bay Lighning makes $9.5 Million per year and " We ain't got no more cap space." Also, Marner grew up dreaming of a cup in Toronto and will make a fortune in marketing fees if he stays and does so. He could even make more in marketing fees etc. than his salary. Or, of course, he could end up being the lone star on a team he doesn't want to play on without support like he has now. If Mitch Marner stays in Toronto, odds are very good he will get a crack at a Stanley Cup one year, making him a legend forever. The legacy payments could be astounding if he helped delivered a cup to Toronto.

Marner's leveraging points. Simple, I will take bridge or go play overseas and you risk losing another year of the now rapidly shrinking window. You see, one of those supposed 5 years is a strike year and with the way greed has overtaken the NHL, it could be a long strike that loses the year entirely.

Was there a solution to this conundrum ? Well yes, Maple leaf GM Kyle Dubas must trade a good player for salary cap room and overpay star winger Mitch Marner, seriously risking any chance at the cup anyway. Afterall, The Maple Leafs were tight to the salary cap already, no one was picking the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup this upcoming season. They clearly were still lacking parts and have already shuffled their deck with the Nazim Kadri trade and ,of course, the Zaitsev and Connor Brown to Ottawa for Ceci trade. When the Maple Leafs signed star center John Tavares  from the New York Islanders and caved into William Nylander, they must have seen this coming and hoped Marner would be the one to take the hometown discount for a chance at the first Stanley Cup in Toronto since 1967. But then Mitch Marner's family got involved and said " No way!". They wanted  Auston Mathew's kinda money. And just maybe that is what is wrong with todays' game.The money is now far more important than winning, even though winning would bring even more money for everyone anyway. There is just too much greed now and no real thinking about the fans anymore.

So, this now left Maple leafs GM Kyle Dubas with two options: Make cap room and pay the big dollars to Marner or trade Mitch Marner. After all, perhaps Mitch would like it in Winnipeg? I know big star winger Patrick Laine would love it in Toronto.It may be high time Leaf management put the team and the fans before the one player. Like it or not but Mitch Marner being traded is more real than it was with William Nylander. The Maple Leafs had just added John Tavares, for free via free agency and had a good team where William Nylander wasn't as critical. Mitch Marner is critical and the mishandling of this situation could cost the Leafs and the fans a chance at a Stanley Cup berth in 2020.

This was a the most important time to date for Kyle Dubas as the Maple Leaf 's GM and the mishandling of this affair could have very big and tragic consequences. This team did not have a 5 year window and needed to treat each of the 4 years they did have to go for it or become the biggest loser franchise of all time.Right now, I will rate it 51 percent Mitch Marner could be traded. Mitch Marner has too much leverage and the team and fans, too much to lose. Sometimes a trade is the only way everyone can be happy. Just ask Wayne Gretzky.

Update: September 4th 2019: Kyle Dubas says he is not actively exploring the trade market for star winger Mitch Marner but when you are trying to sign a player one never admits it. There has, no doubt, been calls and discussions from other teams while the preference is to sign him long term. The current rumour is a 3 year bridge at $9.5 Million per year putting the Maple Leafs back in hot water not long from now.

Update September 12 th 2019. With training camp quickly starting, rumours of course abound. The latest is The Maple Leafs have offered Mitch Marner $11M on term, 7 to 8 years. If that is the case, The Leafs can't go any higher and must cut years off the term. Who will blink first?

Update. Mitch Marner signs a 6 year deal on Sept. 13th 2019. The contract averages $10.893 Million per year making Mitch Marner the second highest paid winger in the league behind Artemi Panarin  who signed with the New York Rangers for 7 years at $ 81.5 Million..