The Toronto Maple Leafs Not in the Business of Trading Star Wingers

The bulk of the chatter since the Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated in the first round against the Boston Bruins has been the potential trade of star winger Mitch Marner.

Leafs Not in the Business of Trading Star Winger this Offseason
Leafs Not in the Business of Trading Star Winger this Offseason / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

If I had to guess, I don't think the Toronto Maple Leafs will end up trading Mitch Marner.

The entire Marner / Toronto Maple Leafs situation is reminiscent of the Nazem Kadri saga from 2019. The deal came on the heels of Kadri’s second consecutive playoff suspension, making him the scapegoat for the Leafs elimination that season.

Then-GM Kyle Dubas traded Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche in what many called a hockey trade at the time. The Leafs got Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie in the deal. Barrie didn’t work out so well, and Kerfoot actually played well under Sheldon Keefe, but I think pretty much everyone would rather have just kept Kadri after all.

This time around, GM Brad Treliving is not planning to replicate the same mistake. Trading Marner now would result in a deal just like the Kadri deal turned out. With that in mind, I’d like to explore three points that highlight why the Leafs should not be in the business of trading Mitch Marner this offseason.

Three Points Explaining Why the Leafs Are Not in the Business of Trading Mitch Marner

#1: Nazem Kadri

It’s funny to reflect on the Kadri trade because he actually wanted to stay in Toronto. Kadri was committed to staying with the Leafs. However, Leafs’ management succumbed to public pressure and shipped off Kadri to appease the fan base.

Kadri flourished in Colorado, putting up his best season in 2021-2022 during the Avs’ cup run that season. While he had a bit of a down year in Calgary last season, he bounced back with 75 points in 82 this season.

With that precedent in mind, it’s quite possible that Marner, playing a less intense market, could thrive. Marner could easily play on any team’s top line, allowing him to eclipse the 100-point mark. Now, it’s not a given that will happen, but it’s certainly a possibility.

#2: Marner’s value is at its lowest point

At this point in time, Marner’s trade value is at its lowest. Of course, I’m not saying that Mitch Marner is a bad player, but there are several points dragging Marner’s value down.

First, Marner has a no-movement clause (NMC). The NMC basically means the Leafs are shackled to whatever Marner wants. Other teams know this and could easily lowball the Leafs. Treliving would have to accept a lower return just to get Marner out the door.

Second, the perception is that Marner had a down year and was a bust in the playoffs. While he wasn’t a stand-out performer in the playoffs, his overall play wasn’t terrible. That being said, teams can use this argument to bring the Leafs’ asking price down.

Lastly, Marner will become a free agent next summer. This situation means that any team that trades for him needs to have assurance that Mitch Marner could sign with them. Otherwise, interested teams would treat Marner as a rental, further driving his price down.

#3: Trading Marner is bad optics

In short, trading Marner looks bad. Dealing Marner now would make it seem like Toronto has already given up on the season. Unless the Leafs got someone back like Igor Shesterkin, Roope Hintz, or Cale Makar, fans will be disappointed by the return.

The Leafs potentially have their last chance at a Cup. Trading Marner now means the team will need to retool and wait. The retool could pay off right away. Alternatively, it may take two or three more seasons for the Leafs to become a contender again.


That is why the Leafs cannot afford to trade Marner now, lest the fans come at the team with pitchforks and torches. It’s much better for the club to let Marner walk away as a free agent. Doing so shifts all the blame on Marner rather than team management.