Toronto Maple Leafs: Kyle Dubas Wins Again

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs puts the phone down during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs puts the phone down during the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 21, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Mitch Marner to a contract extension last night.

When the terms were announced, many of the people who are, in my opinion, the best Toronto Maple Leafs analysts, were critical of the deal, and of Kyle Dubas.

You know, apparently he’s just not a good negotiator.

But, like when people who aren’t in the dressing room talk about leadership, I just smirk and say whatever.

I mean, how can you know?

Marner Deal

You can look at Marner’s comparables and say the Leafs overpaid, but I think that’s a pretty one-sided way to look at things.

The NHL landscape is changing.  What happens with most NHL contracts is that teams overpay for free agents whose best days are behind them.

The age of analytics has made it so that people now know that a player’s best years are going to be much earlier than previously believed. 

So players are saying “If you want my prime, you’ll have to guess what it’s worth and pay me accordingly.”

It’s a slow process, and everyone is feeling their way around in the dark. Nylander sure as hell isn’t worth $4 million less than Marner, and he signed his deal less than a year ago – that’s how much the landscape has changed.

So sure, you can  look at Kucherov – whose deal hasn’t kicked in yet – and say “Marner makes two million more than the league’s best player” and in that context it’s a stupid contract.  No argument from me.

But it’s not comparing apples to apples.  If Kucherov refused to play until someone gave him a higher contract, he probably would have got one.   He certainly didn’t have the home-town hero thing to leverage either.

But most of all, Kucherov is at his peak. He’s had his best season.  Compare Marner’s first three years in the NHL to Kucherov’s and you’ll see Marner had roughly 80 more points.  

If you’re Marner, are you going to sign away your prime you’ve outperformed the league’s current best player at your position by a significant amount during comparable portions of your career?

No you are not.

Kyle Dubas locked up all three of his franchise players and that makes him a genius.  It makes him the best GM this town – not just this franchise – has ever seen.

Locking up Marner, Matthews and Nylander to long term deals is the single greatest achievement in the history of the Leafs General Manager position.

They said he couldn’t do it, he did it.

And the cost isn’t that bad.

Nylander’s contract already looks pathetically under valued.  It’s highly likely to be the best value contract in the NHL eventually.

The Matthews deal, while we’d prefer it to be longer, is already team friendly too.  It hasn’t even kicked in yet.

And while the Marner deal seems high, the fact is that players who score 94 points when they’re 21 are essentially guaranteed to be hall of famers.  The Leafs get his entire prime, and the cap will go up like mad with expansion and gambling profits on the horizon.

Other NHL teams will continue to spend money on older, worse players.  Marner might look like a bad deal today, but give it six months, a year, or two – it is going to eventually be a dirt cheap contract.

The Toronto Maple Leafs might have three of the seven highest contracts in the NHL, but they’ve also got a front office with a near perfect record.  They have done nothing to indicate that they don’t know what they’re doing.

The Leafs have locked up four of the best players in the league for a minimum of five years.  The people complaining about this seem to have forgotten how much it usually sucks to be a Leafs fan.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  This is a good deal.

Next. 2018-19 Leafs Player Grades. dark

Kyle Dubas deserves the key to the city, a lifetime contract and he should never have to buy a beer in this town again.

It is a very good day to be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.