Mid-Summer 7: Marner contract remains top priority for Leafs
Negotiations between the Maple Leafs and restricted free agent Mitch Marner are being watched closely by agents around the NHL this summer, as Joe Smith of The Athletic writes that they are waiting for him to sign with Toronto.
"It appears there’s a waiting game among high-profile RFAs with no one wanting to go first, with a source saying agents are waiting for Toronto’s Mitch Marner to get his deal done and set the market," Smith wrote.
Marner is one of several high-profile restricted free agents who remain without a contract this summer, including Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks.
Marner led all remaining unsigned RFAs in points last season with 94, followed closely by Point who had 92 points and scored 41 goals to Marner's 26 in three fewer games.
The Lightning secured a different piece of their future on Monday, signing goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to an eight-year contract extension that will begin in 2020, but general manager Julien BriseBois said he still expects Point to be signed ahead of the team opening training camp in September.
“I fully expect to get it done prior to the start of training camp,” BriseBois said. “I don’t have a precise timeline. I’m still confident we can get something done. There’s a pace to the off-season. Usually, players that are in Brayden’s situation tend to be the last ones to get done. Not because we’re not working on it, but it’s a little more complicated to get done. I’m still very optimistic.”
Smith reports that, contrary to a previous report, Point did not turn down an offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens earlier this month, though his camp did lead other teams to believe he wouldn’t sign one. He adds that there is no hostility in negotiations between the Lightning and Point.
“Just a slow process like all other RFAs,” Point's agent Gerry Johannson said.
Marner is the Maple Leafs lone remaining restricted free agent. The team signed star centre Auston Matthews to a five-year, $58.17 million contract extension in February to keep the 21-year-old off the RFA market this summer.