Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true.
No matter where you go, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, blogs or for a leisurely walk down any random Canadian street, about 95% of people are all saying the same thing, Marner is sitting on a bloated contract. A contract that he got by being a sooky baby (it may have a little to do with being a great hockey player as well, I guess). I thought we were supposed to teach our children that crying DOESN’T get you what you want? That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. These days being “hurt” because business people conducted business like business people conduct business means eventually they need to overpay you if you refuse to smile for an entire summer (Did anybody else notice this or was it just me?).
Because that’s the root of this evil. Lou Lamoriello didn’t give Mitch a full bonus package in his ELC, so the Leafs had to pay for it now, which seems outlandish to me but you have to give credit to Kyle Dubas, he was at least willing to try….
The Leafs have been persistent in pushing both a 7 yr and 8 yr extension at Marner. The $11 mil per offer was made in June and included the $1.6 mil in B bonuses Toronto wouldn’t pay Marner in his entry level contract. 3 yr ext remains the focus.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 11, 2019
Basically Mitch and his agent didn’t push hard enough 3 years ago so now they’re angry. At the Leafs.
Apparently we’re not teaching our kids to own their mistakes and learn from them either, because the only people the Marner camp should be angry with is themselves for not getting what they could have the last time around.
It’s that failure to push for more that resulted in them feeling unappreciated by the team.
But enough about that. It’s exhausting to think about.
The real question now is what does this mean for the team going forward?
To me it means that even the bottom of the lineup might see some penny pinching, and it’s possible that we could see some jobs given out based on salary over skill.
Once Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott return from injury, and with a lineup that looks like this:
Johnsson Matthews Nylander
Hyman Tavares Marner
Mikheyev Kerfoot Kapanen
Petan Spezza Moore
the Leafs will have just under $50K in cap space. This lineup isn’t necessarily what I’d like to see, but the names don’t necessarily matter as much as the cap hits. What I mean is if you get a guy that comes into camp and impresses the pants off management, but his caphit is too high, that could effect his status once all the injured players come back to the lineup. To start the season things are basically wide open, but beyond that is a different story.
As an example, if you wanted to promote Joseph Duszak (800K AAV) and waive Jordan Schmaltz (700K AAV) after the new year, that simple move would put the Leafs $50K above the cap ceiling. Using Duszak as an example is simple because he doesn’t have any performance bonuses in his contract.
If you use a player with a little more fanfare like Timothy Liljegren, who has 400K in performance bonuses he could potentially earn, things get a little more complicated. If you decide to call him up mid season those bonuses need to be factored in. Even before bonuses he brings a cap hit of 863K, while Rasmus Sandin would come with a 894K cap hit. This makes both of the Leafs highly touted defensive prospects expensive assets as compared to the rest of their group.
This is where players like Justin Holl (675K), Frederik Gauthier (675K), Kevin Gravel (700K), and Martin Marincin (700K), among others, have a bit of a step up on the competition. It could also work against a player like Ilya Mikheyev (925K). If Mikehyev leaves management with any doubts at all they could opt to send him to the AHL Toronto Marlies to adjust to the NA ice surface and game, rather than let him figure it out on the big club.
With all of this said I have nothing but trust in Brandon Pridham.
Last note is this:
Mitch Marner is a terrific player, and I’d much rather overpay a great player than another David Clarkson. On top of that Kyle Dubas has done great things by getting players like Tyson Barrie at lower cap hits through having other teams retain salary. The team is set up for great regular season success at the very least, and hopefully one of these years they can buy into the idea that when you reach the playoffs everybody needs to follow Zach Hymans lead and play with more determination. If that happens, and if this team pulls off the unthinkable, nobody will care about contracts. I’m truly happy that Marner will be a Leaf for another 4 years and possibly longer. Also that last sentence was tongue in cheek.
All numbers used are taken from capfriendlys armchair GM tool.