With the Toronto Maple Leafs enduring their drawn-out negotiations with restricted free agent William Nylander, it was suggested recently that Toronto try to negotiate deals with future restricted free agents, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, during the season to avoid similar holdouts next season.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston on Saturday Headlines, reported that while Marner’s camp sounds uninterested in discussing a contract extension in-season, Matthews camp is open to a deal.
“There were discussions throughout the summer with both Auston Matthews’ camp Mitch Marner’s camp with their extensions. They could’ve done that July 1, but some of those discussions are off,” Johnston said. “Mitch Marner and his camp have called a moratorium on talks throughout the season. They don’t want to see that distraction. I get the sense that Auston Matthews would be willing to work on his extension throughout this season.”
Matthews would be in line for a major contract pay raise as he is likely looking for pay that may even exceed the $11MM that Tavares received this summer. The 21-year-old posted 40 goals in his rookie campaign. That number dropped a little last year when he tallied 34 goals, but Matthews also missed 20 games due to injury last season.
Marner, on the other hand, hopes to get similar money to that of Matthews and The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) believes that Marner is ready to take his game to another level and believes he will easily manage to average a point-per-game after impressing in Saturday evening’s game against Ottawa. If he has an 80-point season, Marner will have posted 210 points in his three entry-level seasons, which the scribe compares to numbers of Jack Eichel, who signed an eight-year, $80MM ($10MM AAV) deal a year ago. That could prove to be quite costly for the Maple Leafs as well.
- In a competitive defensive training camp battle, the Toronto Maple Leafs determined that defenseman Igor Ozhiganov was a keeper earlier than most. However, what does Toronto have in the 25-year-old defender who came over from the KHL this summer. The Athletic’s Ian Tulloch (subscription required) breaks down the play of the 6-foot-2 defender, who moves the puck extremely well, although there remain questions on his defense. While many KHL imports have struggled with moving the puck, Ozhiganov has had quite a bit of success so far, albeit in limited time, giving hope that he could develop into a solid blueliner. However, he does have Justin Holl breathing down his neck as a potential replacement.
- NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty, in a mailbag piece, writes that Lee Stempniak, who signed a PTO with the Boston Bruins, continues to remain with the team hoping for a chance to work his way into the team’s lineup. The scribe writes that if youngsters Ryan Donato or Danton Heinen fail to impress in their top-six auditions, the team is keeping Stempniak around as insurance. The 35-year-old, who played 37 games for Carolina last season, said that he would prefer to stay in Boston with his family and will continue to practice with the team for now.