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Marner, Maple Leafs will work out contract, Nylander says

Forward went through same situation last offseason as restricted free agent, says 'it just takes time'

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

STOCKHOLM -- Mitchell Marner remains a restricted free agent, but William Nylander is confident the forward and the Toronto Maple Leafs will agree on a new contract. He just isn't about to predict when.

Nylander said Marner reached out to him about six weeks ago but would not reveal the nature of the conversation.

"We just talked," the 23-year-old forward said during the NHL European Player Media Tour on Thursday. "The thing is, when it comes to negotiations, sometimes it's quick, sometimes it's a slower one. In the end, you know that you'll be playing hockey. It just takes time."

Nylander can relate to what Marner is going through. He was in the same position as a restricted free agent last offseason and missed the first two months of the regular season before agreeing to a six-year contract (average annual value of $6.9 million) just before the Dec. 1 deadline. A restricted free agent not signed by 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 1 is ineligible to play in the NHL that season.

Marner led the Maple Leafs with an NHL career-high 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games last season. The 22-year-old forward said last month he is staying out of the negotiations but is unlikely to attend training camp, which opens Sept. 13, without a contract.

Toronto center John Tavares told TSN on Sunday that he believes Marner and the Maple Leafs eventually will find a resolution, a sentiment echoed by Nylander.

"I'm with [Tavares]," Nylander said. "In my eyes, I'm not thinking he's not going to be part of the team. He's part of the team and that's how it's going to be.

"Mitch is a key player for the team, that's for sure. He plays everything. Power play, 5-on-5, penalty killing, he's just a huge guy. He's crucial in the last minute of games too."

Marner is one of several high-profile restricted free agents who remain without a contract, including forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor (Winnipeg Jets), Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames), Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche), Brayden Point (Tampa Bay Lightning), and Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks), and defensemen Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins) and Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers).

Forward Sebastian Aho signed a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens on July 1, but the Carolina Hurricanes matched it six days later.

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