Toronto – On Friday evening restricted free agent Mitch Marner signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth an average annual value of $10.893 million. The playmaking right winger will rejoin his hometown team as he looks to continue his excellent play after coming off his best season that saw him tally a total of 94 points, with 68 assists. Last year, those numbers were good enough to make Marner the 5th highest scoring winger in the league as he led the Leafs in scoring.
Coming off a disappointing year that saw the Leafs lose in game 7 (once again) to the Boston Bruins, it was crucial to get Marner locked up as they vie to cement a cup contending team for the foreseeable future. Not to mention, avoiding the negotiating debacle that occurred last season with William Nylander, which gave the Leafs and General Manager Kyle Dubas, more than enough incentive to sign Marner as soon as possible. Dubas made it clear after the Leafs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season, that getting Marner signed was the number one priority as they entered the off-season. Trading forwards like Nazem Kadri, Connor Brown, and Patrick Marleau, opened up much needed cap space to get this deal done.
The Leafs have arguably the most talent in the NHL, but it has yet to translate during the most pivotal time of year; the playoffs. The Leafs have lost in the first round the last three seasons, and fans are becoming impatient. This will be one of the most important seasons for the team as they’ve had three years to let their young stars get playoff experience; and with the addition of Tyson Barrie to strengthen their defence, it is Toronto’s time to show the hockey world that the “plan” the Leaf’s organization has been talking about for the last 5 years, is ready to be fulfilled.
Now that Marner is signed, the team can begin to focus on achieving that plan as they begin this 2019/2020 campaign. Dubas and the rest of management, have assembled a team with a core of players capable of beating any team on any given night. The only question is, will the Leafs rise to the occasion? Many believe they will, but only time will tell. Signing Marner lifts a huge weight off the shoulders of the team, management, fans, and the entire Leafs organization. They only thing left for the Leafs to do is prepare to be ready when their season begins on October. 2nd as they face the Ottawa Senators at home.
This season in the NHL will be interesting for many reasons, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are right at the top of that list.