There Is Only 1 Way to Avoid Losing a Mitch Marner Trade

Apr 24, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A fan holds up a large photo of Toronto Maple Leafs forward
Apr 24, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A fan holds up a large photo of Toronto Maple Leafs forward / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Toronto Maple Leafs probably shouldn't trade Mitch Marner.

The Toronto Maple Leafs gave Mitch Marner a full no-movement clause, so even if they could make a trade for him, the odds are that it's with the only team he'll agree to go to and that team will get a huge discount. There are just unlikely to be that many teams that Marner would agree to go to and which could afford to absorb his $11 million salary cap hit.

Most of the trade proposals for Marner that I've seen are pretty bad. Usually it's for a couple of decent but not star players and some cap savings. Maybe with a draft pick or something thrown in.

They are not good trades, and the Leafs won't be able to re-invest the cap space to get better.

There is only one way to get a fair trade for Mitch Marner.

There Is Only 1 Way to Avoid Losing a Mitch Marner Trade

When you are in a cap systsem and are gifted with elite players who have the abilty to become elite in the NHL before they need their second contracts, you have a very rare chance to take advantage of the salary cap.

For the first three years of their careers, players make arond the league minimum no matter how good they are. For example, the Chicago Blackhaws should be all-in right now trying to win while they have a free $12 million dollars they don't have to pay Connor Bedard.

The Leafs didn't take advantage of this back in the early phases of Marner and Matthews' career, but they could use that philosophy now to make a Marner trade they actually win.

But it's risky.

In order to win a Marner Trade, the Leafs would need to exchange him for players who are on current entry-level deals, but whose upside makes the trade a potential winner.

Any team that has such a situation - Columbus or Anaheim - would not likely appeal to Marner, so that is one issue with this idea. However, if Toronto is proving too much for him, he may find a market like Anaheim exactly to his liking, so I don't think this is impossible.

Marner has been mentored by both Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, so he probably wouldn't have to be sold too hard on the benifits of living and playing hockey in southern California.

If the Leafs could swap Marner for a potential super-star on an entry-level deal, and use a third team to prevent themselves from taking back a bunch of loser contracts in exchange, they could win a trade.

Take Anaheim for example.

They have $33 million in cap-space available for next season. Marner makes them instantly better and could accelerate a rebuild they must be sick of by now.

The Ducks pick 3rd and have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. They could trade the Leafs Leo Carlsson for Mitch Marner. The Leafs would have an elite talent for the next two seasons who makes less than Ryan Reaves.

They would have $10 million in Cap Space. The same trade could be done with Columbus, but for Adam Fantilli. Marner is worth more than a 1 for 1 trade, but the cap savings are huge here. If Anaheim would give you Minteyev to retain half of Marner's hit, it would probably be worth it - who knows what variables offer them the chance to be creative? There are lots of ways it could go, but the key focus should just be on a potential sophomore superstar with 2 cheap years left.

The risk here is that the player you trade for could be a bust. It's unlikely, but who knows. They certainly aren't going to be at Marner's level, even under the best case scenario, for years. However, you're adding elite talent, you're extending your window, and most of all, if you hit on the right player, you could win the lottery.

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Auston Matthews and William Nylander are just hitting their primes. Augmenting that with a blue-chip superstar on an entry-level deal would be incredible. The left over money could go to a goalie or a defenseman, but you wouldn't have to lose a Marner trade on purpose to get one of those.