In Jim Parsons’ recent post titled “NHL Rumor Shootdown: Nugent-Hopkins, Marner Moves Unlikely”, Parsons wisely puts the kibosh on recent rumors attributed to Paul Gackle that suggest that the Toronto Maple Leafs, because they will “do everything possible to hang onto (Auston) Matthews” might create a scenario where other teams – in this case the San Jose Sharks – “could take a run at Mitch Marner, either through trade or offer sheet.” [source – ‘Sharks ramblings: Erik Karlsson, Mitch Marner and a possible Plan B’, Paul Gackle, The Mercury News, 12/10/2018]
On the basest of all levels, there is a sliver of logic to this rumor. The Toronto Maple Leafs have great forwards but need help on defense. Erik Karlsson is rumored to be unhappy in San Jose. He’s a great defenseman. One and one equal – well, in this case, not two. Even logically, these are simply rumors, but it’s way too early this season to be making such plans.
What About Trading Mitch Marner?
To get right to my point, the idea of trading Marner is simply ludicrous – and ignorant. First, from a logical perspective, Marner is a restricted free agent. Even if Marner signs an offer sheet, the Maple Leafs can match it – which, given the drama of the William Nylander contract – might be good for Maple Leafs management. No drama; fan support to keep one of their rising stars and favorite players. You get the point.
Second, can you imagine Marner wanting to move anywhere else? If you are a young player with any smarts at all, you want to stay with a successful team. And, that is exactly what the Maple Leafs are this season and promise to be going into the future: successful.
This rumor, as Parsons notes, is “likely just wishful thinking in the face of some whispers Karlsson hasn’t quite fit in with San Jose like many have hoped he would.”
Aside from the logic outlined above, there are many other reasons why it would be stupid to even consider trading Marner. Here’s some:
First, he’s really young. He won’t be 22 years old until next May. At 21 years old, he’s this good? We have no idea how good he could become when he gains more experience.
Second, as I said, he’s good now. And, by that, I mean really good. When you have 41 points in 31 games at age 21 – that’s beyond good. Again, if you are Kyle Dubas and you trade Marner, the next thing you would be looking for is someone just like Marner. Duh.
Third, he’s a hometown boy – from Markham, Ontario. Money aside, we know how much it mattered to John Tavares’ signing that, when Tavares was a kid, he dreamed of playing for his beloved Maple Leafs. Photos of his room as a young boy proved just that: his youthful dreams were at least part of the reason he signed. He could have made a big payday with any other team. I can only imagine that Marner feels the same way.
Fourth, if you were Marner, would you even consider going anywhere else? What if, for example, the St. Louis Blues offered him big money? Advice to Marner: don’t go.
Fifth, Marner plays the way you want players to play. He’s a team guy, who sees his role as making the team better – not himself. Obvious evidence of his team-first mentality is his goal-to-assist ratio. Of his 41 points, 35 are assists. That’s amazing. But it also shows that he is a player who sees the ice, who considers his teammates, and who has a sense of what it takes to score. Did I say that he’s good?
It’s Ludicrous to Consider Trading Marner
In watching the Maple Leafs carefully this year, here’s how good I think Marner is now and might become. Aside from the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid or his own teammate Auston Matthews, I wouldn’t trade Marner straight up for anyone else in the NHL. Not Erik Karlsson; not Alex Ovechkin; not Nathan MacKinnon; not Johnny Gaudreau. Not even Sidney Crosby. And, as I said in other posts, I believe Sidney Crosby is a generational player. These other players? Really good, too.
Mitch Marner might never become a generation player. But, with teammate Matthews, he plays on the same team as one. If you are Dubas and the Maple Leafs’ management, you certainly would not want to watch Marner become a star on another team.
Even considering trading Marner is ignorant. Keep him in the Blue and White – and do it for as long as you can.