Toronto Maple Leafs: Mitch Marner Will Not Be An Islander

The Toronto Maple Leafs should be used to this by now.

In a decidedly rare move, I threw caution to the wind this past weekend and chose to spend Friday to Sunday up at the cottage. Well, not my cottage, per se. But a cottage nonetheless.

This three-day retreat to the wilderness was, in fact, the first multi-day break I had taken in over two full years, and now that I have finally returned to civilized society, life is great. Swell, even. I feel more refreshed and energized than ever.

That is, until I saw what I missed.

On Friday afternoon, The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reported that multiple teams were in the process of considering whether or not to tender an offer sheet to Mitch Marner – a group which included both the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. While not a surprising development in the slightest, content is content, and a number of outlets chimed in to raise the uproar.

Mitch Marner doesn’t really care about my vacation, does he?

Will either team actually opt to poach Marner from the Maple Leafs by traversing this heavily under-utilized avenue? Probably not. This is the NHL, after all. Avenues are under-utilized for a reason, and that reason is they require taking risks.

Not to mention, the names occupying Pagnotta’s reported list of teams don’t inspire much confidence, either. Given how spectacularly Marc Bergevin botched his first offer sheet to Sebastian Aho on July 1st before then being shot down immediately and hilariously by Brayden Point before he could even extend the Lightning centre one, it seems highly unlikely for Montreal to even get on base with their third swing, let alone clobber a Marner-sized grand slam.

That leaves the Islanders as the lone remaining threat. At least, on the surface.

Only, those who paraded around the possibility of a Long Island offer sheet to Marner over the weekend forgot one important fact: Marner is not a huge fan of Lou Lamoriello.

You see, the Marner camp feels disrespected by the Leafs at the moment, with the bulk of their perceived issues stemming from Mitch’s rookie season in 2016-17. As for whether a 19-year-old freshman who was given a top-six role right out of the gate, the third most ice time of any Leaf forward, and a permanent spot on the power play in his first NHL season has any right to feel “disrespected”? Well, he doesn’t. But that is a question for another day.

Nevertheless, the reality is that a central pillar of the Marner Saga is him getting what he deserves.

When negotiating the parameters of his ELC back in 2016, Marner and his agent felt that he deserved to receive both the Schedule A and Schedule B bonus structures typically given to top-five picks. It was not an unfair assumption, either. The Maple Leafs had just selected Marner fourth overall at that year’s draft, spent one of their highest choices in recent memory to acquire him, and did so with visions of him playing a vital role in their upcoming rebuild. Naturally, the full bonus structure should have been a given.

Alas, it wasn’t. Marner’s deal was endowed only with the Schedule A bonuses, of which he hit in every possible proceeding year. The exclusion of those pesky Schedule B bonus is, therefore, one of the reported main factors fuelling the Marner camp’s air of disrespect.

Darren Ferris, Marner’s agent, even publically said as much during his post-Matthews extension tirade to the Toronto Star back in February, exclaiming:

“Nobody else is taking a discount. And now you’re asking (Marner) to take one again? It’s nonsense,” Ferris told the Star. “Mitch already did them a favour on the entry-level deal.”

Point taken. Marner has not forgotten the Maple Leafs’ decision from years ago to withhold him from earning the Schedule B bonuses he feels he rightfully deserved. It makes sense.

And who was the central figure behind the execution of that very decision? Well, he goes by the name of Lou Lamoriello, otherwise known as the current General Manager of the New York Islanders – the team Pagnotta believes to be the biggest threat of snagging Marner with an offer sheet.

So, let me get this straight:

Mitch Marner, who still feels slighted by a choice the Maple Leafs made three full years ago, is now dead set on tossing a middle finger in the face of his hometown team before signing an offer sheet submitted to him by the one man responsible for that very choice.

Is that what we’re going with now? Jeez, Louise. I should have stayed at the cottage.

What this all boils down to, my friends, is clicks. Sweet, sweet clicks. The alternate reality in which Marner leaves Toronto to join the Islanders a mere one year after his former linemate, John Tavares, left the Islanders to join the Leafs is what we like to call Narrative Christmas™. It’s poetic, really. A sportswriter’s dream. And as the majority of people tend to do when it comes to their most enticing dreams, Twitter has attempted to will it into existence.

Spoiler Alert: it’s not going to happen. Sorry to disappoint.

Marner feels disrespected right now – by Kyle Dubas, for “lowballing” him in the present; and by Lou Lamoriello, for “lowballing” him in the past. Dubas, conceivably, would be the least guilty party here. His current negotiation strategy, which is to pay Marner a market rate, is at least being supported by a long list of comparables.

Lamoriello’s stinginess can be explained only as “Lou being Lou”.  And most of the time, Lou is a  hardass.

There still stands a chance, of course, that Marner has decided against using baseline traits like “logic” and “rational thinking” throughout this process. Which is fine, honestly. You do you, man. This is your future at stake.

But at the end of the day, if these feelings of “disrespect” from the Marner camp are indeed real and not the thinly-veiled, fabricated nonsense that has become typical of a Darren Ferris negotiation, jumping ship to join forces with the main person responsible for the enabling of your inferiority complex doesn’t seem all too likely, does it?

Unfortunately, “I Dunno, You Guys. Based on the Facts, Marner Likely Won’t Join the Islanders” is not a headline that drives traffic. No one likes reading a sensible take. They love chaos, baby!


There. Can I enjoy my summer now?

Thanks for reading!