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Marner contract settled when forward, Maple Leafs 'beared down'

Face-to-face meeting got him 'with the team as soon as possible'

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

PARADISE, Newfoundland -- Mitchell Marner and Kyle Dubas each said a sit-down meeting in Toronto on Thursday proved to be the breakthrough in contract negotiations between the restricted free agent forward and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It led to Marner agreeing to a six-year, $65.358 million contract Friday, the first on-ice day at Maple Leafs training camp.

"I just expressed to Kyle that I don't want to miss any games and want to make sure I'm with the team as soon as possible," Marner said Saturday. "From that moment on, the next day or so, everyone on both sides just beared down and realized that both parties want the same thing, and we came to an agreement.

"I'm excited to be part of this team. I'm happy to be here, happy to be done all that process, and looking forward to helping this team."

 

[RELATED: Marner for full season boosts Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup aspirations]

 

Dubas, the Maple Leafs general manager, said the exchange of ideas with Marner was enlightening.

"It was great for Mitch to tell me how he felt and me to explain the reason where we were at and what we were proposing and so on," Dubas said. "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."

With Marner signed, the Maple Leafs should have him and forwards Auston Matthews, William Nylander and John Tavares intact for the next five seasons. Matthews and Nylander are signed through 2023-24, Marner and Tavares through 2024-25.

"Now it's time to get to work and have fun with it," Marner said.

Video: Mitch Marner and Kyle Dubas Scrum

The process of getting those four players signed has been anything but fun for Dubas, who replaced Lou Lamoriello as Maple Leafs GM on May 11, 2018, less than two months before Tavares signed as a free agent.

Next on the agenda was signing Nylander, a restricted free agent; and Matthews and Marner, who were each eligible to become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2019.

Days after the Tavares announcement, Dubas was asked by TSN 1050 radio if the Maple Leafs could also get Matthews, Nylander and Marner signed.

"We can and we will," Dubas replied.

It proved to be easier said than done.

Video: Maple Leafs sign Mitchell Marner to six-year deal

Matthews was the easy one, Dubas said. The sides agreed to a five-year contract extension Feb. 5. Nylander and Marner proved to be more difficult.

Nylander agreed to terms on a six-year contract just before the Dec. 1 deadline to play in the NHL last season. He struggled after returning to the Maple Leafs, scoring once in his first 23 games and finishing with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 58 games.

Marner, who set NHL career highs in goals (26), assists (68) and points (94) last season, appeared to be on his way to also missing training camp with talks extending past opening night. Dubas helped avoid that from happening.

"I've learned a lot," he said. "I'm open to say I've [messed] some things up, and made some mistakes, and tried to learn from them. Not afraid to ever admit that. That's how you learn your most and your best.

"I'm happy we've gotten to the conclusion we wanted to. ... In the end I'm happy we're able to deliver all three of the guys and bring John in as well and try to improve our team as we did so. We're excited about that."

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Marner

It may have taken longer than the Maple Leafs would have liked, but Marner, Matthews and Nylander are signed, and Toronto has its full roster at training camp to attempt to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1967.

"I'm from Toronto, I live here and I play here as well," Marner said. "There's pressure in that always. You don't think about it, you just go out there and play hockey like I have my whole life.

"We have a great [team] here, the training staff as well and everything else. They're going to make sure that every night you come out ready to play and ready for the games. As a player, I want to make sure every night I'm ready to play, no matter whom I'm up against, the minutes or everything like that, that every time you're on the ice you try and make something happen and try to win."

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