Nothing comes easy to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This offseason has brought forth perhaps the deepest and most talented crop of pending RFAs in recent memory. With names like Brayden Point, Mikko Rantanen, Sebastian Aho (the Carolina one), Matthew Tkachuk, Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, etc, all hitting the market at the same time, one would think that a number of NHL teams would be downright petrified at the moment, paralyzed with fear at the thought of their limited cap space preventing them from retaining their young stars.
Quite the contrary, in fact. You see, although there are a number of teams (Winnipeg, for example) bearing tight enough financial predicaments to potentially force an RFA to leave, the Toronto Maple Leafs are, in fact, the only organization in any real danger.
Does this make sense? Of course not! But Twitter cares not for petty details like “logic” and “facts”.
Let’s cut through all the pomp and circumstances here: Mitch Marner will be a Toronto Maple Leaf next season. You know it. I know it. Mitch knows it. Heck, even his Dad knows it. The dog and pony show which has thus far encompassed the Maple Leafs’ offseason should have been entirely predictable and, yet, is nevertheless being treated with the weight of impending doom.
Allow me to turn your attention to a tweet for a moment.
Remember the Andreas Athanasiou negotiations from 2017? I sure do.
All summer long it seemed as if the then-RFA would command far too much money for Detroit to keep him, thus forcing the talented younger into beginning the regular season in the KHL, as Darren Dreger‘s report above suggested.
Check the date on that tweet now. It was sent on September 5th, mere weeks before the kickoff to training camp. The horror! After negotiations had dragged out this far, a messy split was inevitable, right?
Nope. Athanasiou signed a one-year, $1.375 million (!!!) deal on October 23rd to stay with Detroit, where he’s remained ever since. Oh, and Athanasiou’s agent who oversaw this entire process? Darren Ferris. The same Darren Ferris who represents Mitch Marner, and whose clients have repeatedly engaged in games of chicken with their respective teams when ironing out their post-ELC extensions.
Josh Anderson? Would you look at that? The exact same thing happened, with Anderson refusing to report for training camp, posturing himself in favour of a trade, only to eventually relent on October 2nd, 2017 for the clearly-worth-it payday of three years at $1.85 million.
This is what Ferris does. He plays hardball when it comes to his clients’ first chance at striking it rich, taking these teams down to the absolute wire in order to milk every cent out of their pockets. Which, honestly, is precisely what a good agent should do. If your representative doesn’t comb through every possible avenue all to ensure you are paid based on your true value, then they aren’t doing their job.
Still, the fact of the matter is that reports like Dreger’s from today should be taken with about as much salt as the human body can physically consume in one sitting.
This is his M.O. A track record of tweets and CapFriendly searches confirms just as much.
Therefore, whenever a report crawls across your timeline suggesting that Marner will meet with other teams if Kyle Dubas doesn’t hand him a comparable raise to that of his more important and, frankly, more deserving teammate, it should not be looked at as a signal of the end. Rather, it’s a negotiation tactic – one geared towards stuffing the bank account of Mitch Marner, Ferris’s client, with the largest amount of money that he can.
You must respect the hustle, but that doesn’t mean you have to believe it. And for the sake of your sanity, heed those words.
Thanks for reading!