Like It Or Not, Mitch Marner Will Be on the Toronto Maple Leafs Next Season

Mitch Marner Will Remain With Maple Leafs - Not Waiving Not Trade Clause
Mitch Marner Will Remain With Maple Leafs - Not Waiving Not Trade Clause / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

Mitch Marner will still be on the Toronto Maple Leaf to start the 2024-2025 NHL season.

Like it or not, TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun reported that Marner plans to honour "the remaining year of his contract and see where things go from there". This news may come as a shock to some. Still, it makes sense for both parties to see out the last year of this contract, as the Toronto Maple Leafs have very little chance of winning a trade involving Marner.

Marner's camp has said that he is "not going to agree to anything they think puts them (his camp) in a bad light." (via Elliotte Friedman), which would happen in almost every possible trade scenario.

Lebrun's report also illuminates Marner's camp's strategic thinking. They are not interested in rushing into contract extension talks this offseason on July 1st. Instead, they prefer to observe how the season unfolds before discussing long-term deals. This patient approach demonstrates a commitment to making informed decisions for Marner's future.

While extremely risky, this is the best-case scenario for both sides. For the Maple Leafs, it allows them more time to assess all of their options without making a rash decision to trade Mitch Marner or rush to make a long-term commitment.

On Marner's side, going into the season without a contract extension will allow him to rebuild the stock that some Maple Leaf fans have desperately tried to tank following another first-round exit. It will also put more pressure on the Maple Leafs to meet Marner's demands to keep him while making it more difficult to trade him in the season.

Mitch Marner Likely to Remain With Toronto Maple Leafs

I hate this term, but Marner choosing to 'bet on himself' is the best option for both sides. Despite the narrative some are trying to push, Marner is one of the few genuinely elite players we have in this game, and it is hard to blame him for wanting to be paid as such.

Over the last three years, Marner has led the Leafs in playoff points and has the seventh-most points, fifth-most primary assists, and third-most total assists at five-on-five in the NHL over that stretch in the regular season (NaturalStatTrick). He has also graded in the top five percent of forwards in wins-above-replacement for three straight years (via JFreshHockey). He has received votes to win the Selke Trophy in two consecutive years.  

Now 27 years old, Marner has accomplished all of this and is still hitting his prime hockey years. Many people have been comparing it to when the Maple Leafs decided to let Nazem Kadri walk to the Colorado Avalanche, where he played an instrumental part in their Stanley Cup run in 2022. But it would help if you had more of a hypothetical to explain what the Leafs giving up on Marner could look like.

What if the Avalanche had given up on Nathan Mackinnon in the last year of his contract in 2022-23 and traded him?

Mackinnon recorded his first 100-point season in his 10th year in the NHL, but in the two years since turning 27, he has had 110 and 140 points in the last two years. Marner turned 27 on May 5th, just one day after the Maple Leafs were eliminated from the NHL playoffs and has played eight seasons in the NHL. Much like Mackinnon, Marner has failed to crack the 100-point mark in his first eight seasons but has come awfully close twice, recording 99 points in his sixth season in the NHL, just like Nathan Mackinnon did.

Now, this is not to say Mitch Marner should be looking to get or should get Mackinnon-type money when he signs a new deal. The critical difference in this comparison is that Mackinnon won a Stanley Cup in the year he was due for an extension. While this is still possible for Marner, this comparison is more to show that Marner is, in fact, one of the best players in the NHL already. However, there is still room for him to grow as he is just entering the prime years of his career.

There is no doubt the Maple Leafs need to free up cap space in some form or fashion to get an elite goalie and top defensemen, but trading a player like Mitch Marner now or at any time is simply a stupid idea when he has said that he is committed to staying with the organization if possible.

Marner entering the season without a contract extension is the best scenario for both sides. It will allow Marner to show his value again after being slandered in the media for months. It will put more pressure on the Leafs to pay him the closer he gets to hitting the open market.


However, on the Maple Leafs side, it will allow them to assess their young players for one more year to see if any will be good enough to grow into top-six forwards. It will also allow them to figure out how much John Tavares will want and give them a bunch more time to figure out how to surround Auston Matthews and William Nylander with the best possible roster after this season.