Matthews, Nylander share thoughts on Marner trade rumours

Dean Chaudhry
May 7, 2024  (8:15 PM)

The core of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrating a power play goal.
Photo credit: Nick Turchiaro - USA Today Sports

With Mitch Marner taking a ton of heat after his performance in Round 1 against Boston, two of his teammates have condemned the negative press and stood up for him.

Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander have been together, side-by-side, fighting in the trenches for 8 seasons. They have combined for 773 goals and 1,803 points during that stretch but only have 1 playoff series win and that came just last season. Between 2016-17 and 2021-22, the Maple Leafs lost in the first round every year but stuck by their core players without a shadow of a doubt.
There's no question about their importance to the team or their skill-level but with so many first round exits and Game 7 defeats, there's only so much you can do with the depth pieces surrounding your superstars before you finally jump ship.
Colorado, for example moved on from core pieces in Ryan O'Reilly, Paul Stastny, and Matt Duchene and decided to build around Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon - who had his first big season in his 5th year in the league once all the other core pieces were moved. Ever since then, the Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup once, were defeated in the second round three times, and are currently in the second round as we speak.
Marner is as skilled as any winger in the NHL and there's no denying his playmaking ability, his potential to be a game-breaker, and his overall skillset. However if changes are to be made, it's not going to be the recently-extended Matthews or Nylander who will find themselves on the chopping block. While moving John Tavares would be the ultimate move, it's hard to see teams lining up to secure the services of a 34-year-old veteran with an 11 million dollar cap hit on an expiring contract.
Matthews and Nylander spoke to the media about their feelings surrounding the possible exit of Marner and to no one's surprise, they stood behind their teammate and good friend.
Matthews was quoted as saying:
"In my time here, I've learned there is always a scapegoat, a narrative, something. We love Mitchy, a great teammate, competitor and friend. We take on a lot (including scrutiny) as players and rightfully so. In the end we are also human beings."
While Nylander added:
"He's an incredible human being, friend. Love the guy. Look, there's always someone taking heat here regardless of how it's going. But we love him."
Seen as the cornerstones of the Maple Leafs moving forward, both players shared the exact same sentiment. Not only do they feel for their good friend and teammate but they also made mention that someone has to be the scapegoat every year and after every loss and it just so happens that it's Marner's turn now. All the while acknowledging that hockey is a business first and foremost.
The Maple Leafs need to make changes, there's no two ways around it anymore. The core has had enough time together to string a successful run and every year it fails for one reason or another. They've also proven that you can't win with multiple players making over 10 million dollars a season.
It's now or never for Toronto and with Marner entering his contract season, you'd like to make that move as soon as possible but that's easier said than done with the 27-year-old carrying a full no-movement clause.
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Matthews, Nylander share thoughts on Marner trade rumours

How quickly do you want to the Leafs to move on from Mitch Marner?

During the Draft, no later15921.8 %
Before free agency14019.2 %
Wait for the best possible offer24633.7 %
Keep him at all cost, try to move Tavares18525.3 %
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