The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping that history does not repeat itself with restricted free agent Mitch Marner after going through the ordeal of a lengthy contract impasse with winger William Nylander 12 months ago. The Leafs and Marner appear no closer to reaching an agreement on a new deal less than a month from the opening of training camp, in spite of GM Kyle Dubas being proactive in negotiating with agent Darren Ferris after the end of the season.
Such was not the case with Nylander, whose representatives drew out the process and contract talks lasted into the regular season before getting finally agreeing to a six-year deal on December 1.
Unfortunately, Nylander missing training camp and the first two months of the season definitely had an effect on his performance last season, as the 23-year-old was a non-factor for long stretches, scoring just 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 54 games, three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in the playoff loss to Boston.
“I look back at that season and there were little ups and downs,” Nylander said to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “There were games where I would play well and nothing would happen and that’s just how the game goes. Learning through that time period has helped me and given me experience and stuff to use for whenever that happens again. Now I’m ready to dominate this year.”
Marner is coming off a career-best 94 points last season and is reportedly looking for a contract in the same neighborhood as Auston Matthews $11.634 Million AAV or John Tavares $11 Million AAV, although recent indications are that both sides could be open to a shorter-term bridge deal.
"It's a process. Sometimes it's quick, sometimes it's a slower one. In the end, you know you'll be playing hockey and everything will be fine. It just takes time." Nylander said. "In my eyes I'm not thinking (Mitch) is not going to be part of the team. He's part of the team and that's how it's going to be."
Johnston indicated on Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid Show that the Leafs have been proactive in trying to get Marner signed to a new deal and that the club would prefer to get the 22-year-old signed for six or seven years at an amount of $10 to $10.5 Million per season, but that they would be open to a three-year deal for a lesser amount.
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