As the Mitch Marner sign-or-leave-town drama continues, the Toronto Maple Leafs remain in the news. General manager Kyle Dubas has made astute trades to create salary-cap space and has, at the same time, taken steps to remake and improve the team.
It the midst of this flux, there is news about the Maple Leafs. Here is a review of some of the latest.
Item One: Matthews Wants a Divorce from Kapanen?
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun has reported the
It seems like a bit of an odd desire (or is it a demand?) on Matthews’ part. Both players were highly productive and set career highs. Kapanen’s career-high was 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) and Matthews was 73 points (37 goals, 36 assists). Does Matthews’ comment mean that there’s an
One suggestion is that the enmity goes back to a laugh Kapanen had at Matthews’ expense when Matthews set a screen on a Kapanen goal during the season. Kapanen commented that he didn’t think Matthews was the kind of guy who liked setting screens because he didn’t want to be hit by a puck. Seems like joking around to me, but who knows what might be behind it.
Simmonds reported that he believes the two players will be split up and guesses that Matthews might end up centering old-buddy William Nylander and rookie Ilya Mikheyev. Kapanen would likely play on a line centered by newcomer Alexander Kerfoot and Johnsson.
Item Two: Is Don Cherry Being Canned by Hockey Night in Canada?
Although this is not a Maple Leafs
Although Cherry isn’t to everyone’s taste, it would be difficult to consider replacing such a Canadian hockey icon. But, according to the
Still, Cherry discounted that rumor in a tweet where he said, “I must say I am hurt and disappointed that my friend Steve Simmons would suggest in his Sunday column that Hockey Night in Canada might not want me back for next year. I was told a week after the playoffs I would be back.”
Item Three: Marlies Will Look Different Next Season
The Toronto Marlies will have a rebuilt team for the 2019-20 season. A number of players are leaving: some have earned NHL promotions and some have simply left the Marlies to sign with other teams. For example,
There’s a good chance a number of Marlies’ players will graduate to the big team. Certainly, Trevor Moore, who played 25 games with the Maple Leafs last season, is likely to stay on the roster. As well, Jeremy Bracco, Mason Marchment, Timothy Liljegren, and Rasmus Sandin have great chances to make the team during training camp.
It might be a good time to be a young Maple Leafs prospect, because the team has to sign some inexpensive contracts to fill out its roster to balance the extremely high-priced contracts of John Tavares, Matthews, Nylander, and Marner – should he sign. General manager Kyle Dubas has also signed Nick Shore, Kenny Agostino, and Kevin Gravel. Ben Harpur and Aaron Luchuk came from the Senators in the Zaitsev trade.
Item Four: Marner’s Contract Doesn’t Depend Upon Sebastian Aho’s.
AnEditor in Leafs’ Maple Leafs commentator rightly noted that Marner and the Maple Leafs haven’t yet successfully negotiated a contract because Marner wants Matthews-type money but the team is hesitant to pay it. The commentator also suggests that the offer sheet the Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho signed with the Montreal Canadiens (the Hurricanes matched) is a better comparison. That contract was for an $8.5 million AAV.
Finally, the commentator rightly points out that the comparisons between Aho and Marner are close. Aho is a centre, and Marner is a winger, and
All this is very logical, however, I simply don’t believe Marner’s contract will be defined by logic or by comparing his numbers to anyone else on any other club. Instead, Dubas is battling the two contracts he signed with Nylander and Matthews.
The team is in a difficult dilemma. In a way, neither Nylander’s nor Matthews’ contracts seem financially fair to the Maple Leafs club; however, now that they’ve been signed, if Dubas tries to low-ball Marner (as an offer that matched Aho’s $8.5 million would be) because he’s made two previous contract mistakes, that seems unfair as well.
The team might be stuck between a rock and hard place because of its salary cap limitations; and, although I cannot think this is what anyone wants, it does render a possibility that Marner might be ripe for signing an offer sheet with another club. Fans will soon see.