If the Leafs are going to trade Mitch Marner, there should be only one target

Mike Armenti
June 2, 2024  (12:30)

Logan Cooley
Photo credit: USA Today Sports

With all of the Mitch Marner trade chatter in Toronto, if a trade does occur, there is one player that the Leafs should target over all the others, and he happens to have a history with Matthew Knies.

Following another early postseason exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs have set a course towards a summer of change and Mitch Marner has been at the centre of much of the trade discussion.
Marner has 1 year remaining on his current contract and holds a full no-movement clause, so if he doesn't want to go anywhere, perhaps this is all moot. However, with several reports from some credible insiders suggesting that Marner may be willing to waive his NMC for a fresh start somewhere outside of Toronto, the trade speculation has only increased as the weeks have gone one.
In recent weeks, we have heard rumours of a potential reunion with Kyle Dubas in Pittsburgh, rumours of a possible trade with the Vegas Golden Knights and even a rumour that suggested that there may be as many as 9 teams that Marner would be willing to waive his NMC for. However, if the Leafs are going to make Marner available, there's one team who can afford to pay him a lot of money on a long-term deal that may make the most sense. The former Arizona Coyotes and current Utah Hockey Club.
Marner had been previously linked to the new team in Utah by ESPN's Greg Wyshynski, who proposed the idea of a deal with Marner and Clayton Keller as the two centerpieces. However, if Marner is willing to waive for Utah, there's another player they should target. Young center, Logan Cooley.
Cooley was selected with the 3rd overall draft pick back in 2022, but rather than turning pro right away opted to attend the University of Minnesota along with top Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies. Together, the pair helped the Gophers reach the NCAA's Frozen Four. Unfortunately, though, they came up just short, losing in the semifinals.
Knies and Cooley were a force to be reckoned with for the University of Minnesota, and with Leafs captain John Tavares having just 1 year left on his current contract, the Leafs are going to need someone capable of playing 2nd line center. Cooley could certainly be that, and with the added layer of having pre-existing chemistry with Knies, the fit could be a seamless one in Toronto.
In order to get something, you have to give something and Mitch Marner, a perennial 90+ point player, is certainly something. A player with his unique blend of offense and defense is not easy to find and if the Utah Hockey Club wants a bona-fide superstar to put fans in the stands, Mitch Marner can certainly so that as perhaps one of the top-5 wingers in the NHL.
While a 1-for-1 Marner for Cooley swap doesn't seem like a fair return for the Leafs on the surface, it bears mentioning that centers are a lot harder to find - especially quality centers. Yes, Cooley likely still qualifies as a prospect, but after producing 20 goals and 44 points as a rookie, Cooley has proven that he can play. In most years, those are Calder Trophy-type numbers. This kid is going to be a superstar.
Yes, there is an element of risk for the Maple Leafs here, but such a deal could really change the dynamic in Toronto, help them get a bit younger and allow them to add a player who can grow together with other young Leafs prospects like Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan.
Whether or not Cooley is even available is another discussion entirely, but I'd have to imagine if a player like Mitch Marner is going the other way, there aren't a lot of guys who a team wouldn't make available.
2 JUIN   |   502 ANSWERS
If the Leafs are going to trade Mitch Marner, there should be only one target

If the Utah Hockey Club offered Logan Cooley for Mitch Marner 1-for-1, should the Leafs accept?

Definitely9719.3 %
No, that's not enough for Marner34568.7 %
That's a really tough call6012 %
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