One way for Marner to remain in Toronto and win over the fanbase again

Dean Chaudhry
June 10, 2024  (9:17)

Mitch Marner saluting the fans at the Scotiabank Arena.
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski - USA Today Sports

While Leafs Nation has surely seen enough of Mitch Marner, if he were to sign an extension identical to his current contract, would that change the mood in Toronto?

At one point during the off-season it looked like a foregone conclusion that both sides would be able to find common ground and reach an amicable split. The Toronto Maple Leafs need to change something and with 3/4 of the core either extended or immovable, the finger is being pointed squarely at Marner.
His recent performance in the playoffs left a lot to be desired and since he is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2025, he is in line for a massive contract with the salary cap exponentially rising. With Auston Matthews extended at an AAV of $13.25 million and William Nylander locked in at $11.5 million per season, Marner's camp will assuredly ask for a contract more expensive than Nylander's and closer in value to Matthews'.
It sounds like Marner wants to play out his contract and decide on his future at the end of the season. That doesn't necessarily bode well for the Maple Leafs in the off chance that he decides to walk as a UFA and Toronto gets nothing in return. There's always the possibility of extending him but would that change Toronto's current situation?
High-priced contracts have crippled the club over the last several seasons but with John Tavares set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, there will be plenty of money on the table to get a deal done.
Nick DeSouza of Leafs Nation posited an interesting question: "If Mitch Marner signed a "10.9Mx8 years extension (same AAV he is at right now) with the Leafs, would you be happy with it?"
I think if Brad Treliving and company were afforded the luxury to bring Marner back into the fold at his current $10.9 million AAV on a long-term deal, they would do it instantly. The worry has been whether or not they could afford to give him a deal closer in line to Matthews' AAV than Nylander's but if he were willing to leave money on the table, that would go a long way into building a perennial contender with the cap increasing by $4-5 million over the next couple of seasons.
Plucking him out of the lineup drastically changes the layout of the land and it would be very hard to replace his scoring with 1 or 2 moves either through the draft, free agency, or via a trade. Yes, his playoff numbers have been hard to digest but he's been slightly more effective than Matthews and Nylander over the years and the discourse around them is not nearly as volatile.
Anywhere between his current AAV and what Nylander is being paid would be the perfect scenario for the Maple Leafs in bringing Marner back into the fold. It does seem a little hard to believe that with the salary cap jumping to $88 million this year and expected to jump ahead to $92 million next year, that Marner of all players would be willing to leave money off the table.
However, if his love for the city and the organization trumps all, then this would be the perfect way to resurrect his status amongst the fan base, the city, and the organization as a whole.
10 JUIN   |   420 ANSWERS
One way for Marner to remain in Toronto and win over the fanbase again

Would you extend Mitch Marner for the full 8 years if he came back on an $11 million AAV?

Yes, it's good value with the cap rising21651.4 %
No, it's time to move on once and for all20448.6 %
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