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Maple Leafs' Marner, Tavares express interest in extending as contract years loom


Two members of the Toronto Maple Leafs "Core 4 " are entering contract years, with both Mitch Marner and John Tavares expressing interest in re-signing during season-ending availability on Monday.

Both forwards are among the NHL's 10 highest-paid players this season. Marner said his goal is to a long-term member of the Maple Leafs, while Tavares said his next contract has not been on his mind.

“I haven’t put much thought into it," Tavares said. "But I love to play here.”

“That’d be a goal," Marner said of signing long-term. "I’ve expressed my love for this place, this city. Obviously I’ve grown up here. We’ll start thinking about that now and trying to figure something out.”

"It means the world," he added of being a Maple Leaf. "We’re looked upon as, you know, kind of gods here to be honest. Something that you really appreciate and the love that you get here from this fan base and this attention... is none like any other."

Toronto's season came to an end on Saturday with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7. It marked the Maple Leafs' seventh opening-round exit in the past eight playoffs.

Questions will once again face the team's core this off-season, but William Nylander again defended the group on Monday after also doing so after Saturday's loss.

"(We lost) Game 7 in OT. I was out for games," Nylander said, "(Auston Matthews) was out for games. We battled to get back in the series and I think that’s huge to have in a group, regardless of who is playing.

"I’m not happy with the result ... but I think what we have in here is great."

Tavares said that general manager Brad Treliving, who joined the franchise last summer, addressed the team prior to the availability Monday. He said Treliving's message was to "push forward" and improve.

"The margins are very small and very slim," Tavares added of the general manager's message.

Tavares is signed through next season at a cap hit of $11 million, while Marner is signed at $10.9 million. Both have full no-move clauses in place.

Samsonov on free agency: 'I love this city'

Pending unrestricted free agents Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi both expressed interest in re-signing on Monday. The two ended the season on the team's top line with Auston Matthews, and later skating with Marner in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the playoffs.

Goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who opened the playoffs as the team's starter and played Game 7 in place of the injured Joseph Woll, is also slated for unrestricted free agency this summer.

Samsonov finished the series with a 1-4 record, a .896 save percentage and a 3.01 goals-against average. He was replaced by Woll for the third period of Game 4, which the Maple Leafs eventually lost to fall behind 3-1 in the series.

"I needed to play better," the 27-year-old said his performance.  

Samsonov was awarded a one-year contract in arbitration last summer and had a tumultuous season, going on waivers before eventually taking the starting role back ahead of the playoffs.

"I love this city," Samsonov said of potentially re-signing. "Love everybody on this team."

Samsonov went 23-7-8 during the regular season with a .890 save percentage and a 3.13 GAA.