It’s been nearly 48 hours since the Toronto Maple Leafs signed winger Mitch Marner to a six-year, $65.36MM deal, giving the team three players who will take up $33.52MM in cap space for the next six years, a significant amount for just three players. Regardless, stories about Marner’s new deal has been flooding the internet since Marner’s signing on Friday. Here are some reactions from around the NHL:
- It was expected that Marner’s signing would start a chain reaction of RFA signings with Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning likely to be the first domino to fall. However, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that both sides were far apart in negotiations with the most recent offer weighing in at three years and $5.7MM. Considering the cap situation surrounding the Lightning, working out a deal that makes both sides happy could be quite the challenge.
- The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) points out that the Marner signing will likely have little to no effect on the Point signing. While the market seems to have opened up for RFA’s like Marner, the Lightning have made it clear they are sticking to their organizational philosophy of signing their RFAs to bridge deals before eventually offering them long-term deals. That’s how they have done it with Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
- Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun writes that Kyle Dubas is finally done with signing all his big-name free agents over the last couple of years, but notes that it took a toll on the young GM, who admits that he made a few mistakes. Dubas admits he should have locked all three restricted free agents (Marner, Auston Matthews and William Nylander) at once last year rather than allowing the negotiations go down to the wire. “You learn about the process, of things you do differently for the next time,” Dubas said. “With William, I wish we’d have been on it earlier, with Auston’s case, we had the information and we were projecting headward to go with him. In the end, I’m happy we’re able to deliver all three and bring John in as well.”
- The Toronto Sun’s Kevin McGran writes that Marner and the Maple Leafs have been miles apart for months, but it was Marner who blinked first this time. It had been made quite clear that Marner wanted two things out of the negotiations, which included remaining a Maple Leaf as well as he didn’t want to miss any games. However, after Marner budged, so did Toronto. “We had a sit-down on Thursday for quite a while,” said Dubas. “It was great for Mitch to tell me how he felt, and me to explain where we were at and what we were proposing and so on. About how he fit into the team, how the team was going to move forward and everything of that nature. It was a real positive in the process.”
- The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) writes that the Maple Leafs signing of Marner puts even more pressure on Toronto’s young core. The core of Matthews, Marner and Nylander will have to now start winning and not just finally a first-round victory in the playoffs. The expectations are even higher with most fans now expecting a Stanley Cup win in the near future. Unfortunately with all the money thrown at those three (along with John Tavares), the Maple Leafs aren’t likely going to be able to bring in extra help at the trade deadline or the offseason and the team may lose more and more talent due to their long-term salary cap issues.
- The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel (subscription required) writes that the Toronto Maple Leafs were in tough situation while trying to lock up all their young forwards, but now that everything is completed and signed, the team will not regret signing all of them to long-term deals. The team’s core is now set and now Dubas must be able to find the pieces to fill in over the next few years despite the fact that Toronto will be in salary cap trouble for many years to come.