Toronto Maple Leafs Are Stuck With No Good Options When It Comes to Mitch Marner

GM Brad Treliving has to make a decision on what to do with Mitch Marner over the next six weeks.
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are going into the 2024 summer with some of the biggest decisions looming in team history.

With yet another early exit in the playoffs and the Toronto Maple Leafs losing out again in a Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in which they led in the third period, fans and media are speculating the "Core Four" is likely going to get split up.

When looking at which one of the Maple Leafs four heavily paid players may be headed out of town the only conclusion is that name would be Mitch Marner.

John Tavares has no-movement clause and is going into the final year of his seven year, $77 Million dollar deal that carries a cap hit of $11M per season. Even if they could, no team will want to add a 20-goal scorer at that type of cap hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs Are Stuck With No Good Options When It Comes to Mitch Marner

Some have speculated a buyout, however would carry a cap hit of approximately $10.4 Million next year, which would only be 600K less than having him pay for you. The only way this happens is if management just wants to send a message of splitting up the Core 4, but keeping Marner. This would be a very interesting scenario, but likely a waste of cap space.

The other players of the core, William Nylander and Auston Matthews both just signed extensions and are the two of the main four players that show some sort of resemblance of playoff style hockey.

This leaves one name and that is Mitch Marner.

Like Tavares, Marner is coming into the final year of his contract which comes with a salary cap hit of around $10.9 Million and like his captain comes with a full no movement clause which means he controls his destination.

In Marner's scenario, one of three things can play out. The first being the team decides to keep the hometown winger and sign him to an extension, the second being they ask him to waive his no movement clause and they come together to find which team he would want to go long term; or the third being he refuses a trade or an extension and plays out the final season.

The third scenario would be an utter train wreck to lose a player like Marner for nothing while adding in the distractions that would come all season, so a decision on whether to go route one or route two needs to be known before July 1.

In Marner's final interview of the season he stated that he wanted to be a Maple Leafs player long term and would start thinking about how they would look in the next week or so. The unfortunate part of these types of questions is that there is not another way Marner can answer them.

If this is the route they go, you will get two sides of the fan bases making arguments for and against an extension. One side saying that he is a superstar and when healthy he could be a 100-point player; and the other side saying Marner is too soft and entitled.

Marner is a regular season specialty player that makes highlight reel type plays season in and season out; and has had moments during playoffs where he has taken over games. However, when you are being paid as a top ten player in the league, you cannot just have moments, but you need to carry the play, all the time.

It is unlikely a player of Marner's skill level would ever take a pay cut in what would be the final big contract that they having the opportunity to sign. With Marner continually underperforming his contract, management needs to approach the conversation of either a similar contract or a slight pay decrease with the thoughts of winning over the fanbase, but this is unlikely.

Unfortunately, everything that has been seen from a distance regarding Marner is that he may be looking for a contract north of the $11.5M that William Nylander just signed.

The final option is trading their former fourth overall pick, which is a bad option because even if the player waives his no-movement clause, the returns on a player who can pick his team will be severly discounted.

General Manager Brad Treliving needs to sit down with Marner's camp as soon as possible to explore what an extension would look like.

If the trade route is the direction the team moves towards it cannot linger on and needs to be done in the next six weeks. The only way a trade works out is if both Marner and the team workout a location where he wants to sign an extension. This should be done before July 1 so that Treliving has a better understanding of what the roster looks like going into free agency.


No matter the route, things will likely get very dicey in the upcoming weeks.