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Marner says he'd skip Maple Leafs camp without contract

Restricted free agent forward letting agent handle negotiations

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

VAUGHAN, Ontario -- Mitchell Marner still has about two months to sign a contract before the Toronto Maple Leafs begin training camp in September, but the restricted free agent forward said Thursday if an agreement is not in place by then, he likely will not attend.

"Probably not," Marner said. "There's so much risk with that and it's just something you don't want to risk."

Marner, who led the Maple Leafs with 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games last season, said he is staying out of the negotiations, instead letting agent Darren Ferris handle the process.

"Hopefully sooner than later (something gets done)," Marner said. "I want to be there for the start of camp (Sept. 13), so hopefully something will get done by then.

"My agent and (Maple Leafs general manager) Kyle (Dubas) are doing it and they're going to figure something out. I haven't been involved too much, I've been letting my agent deal with all this stuff and let him do the talking for me."

 

[RELATED: Laine, Marner among top unsigned restricted free agents | NHL Free Agent Tracker]

 

The Maple Leafs are contending with an extended contract negotiation involving an important young player for the second straight offseason. Forward William Nylander's impasse stretched into the regular season before the sides came to an agreement minutes before the Dec. 1 deadline to play last season. Nylander agreed to a six-year contract worth $6.9 million per season and made his season debut on Dec. 6. He scored one goal in his first 23 games and finished with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 54 games after back-to-back 61 point seasons when he missed one game total.

Marner said he has been in contact with the 23-year-old, who offered some advice.

"He's said to just stay calm about it; your agent is dealing with it, let the team and him deal with it," Marner said. "The best advice he gave me was to just stay relaxed, stay out of it and enjoy the summer."

Marner was asked if he would consider signing an offer sheet if one was extended to him by another NHL team. Toronto could choose to match any offer sheet or receive NHL Draft pick compensation based on its value.

"Like I said, I'm just going to leave that to my agent, I've been staying out of all that stuff," the 22-year-old said.

Video: Pagnotta provides latest RFA news on Marner, Boeser

Marner said he is aware of the interest of Maple Leafs fans about the status of his contract but that he is doing his best to focus on improving as a player, not on the day-to-day aspects of the negotiations.

"I've stayed off all of social media. I don't really want to focus on anything like that on social media, there's nothing really good on social media anyways," Marner said. "For me it's just about keeping my phone away from me, relaxing and enjoying the summer. It's just making sure I'm being consistent and come in next year and get ready to perform the same way I did last year and hopefully be better to help our team out more."

Marner, who held his second annual Marner All-Star Invitational benefitting his Marner Assist Fund, said he was excited to hear about the trade that brought defenseman Tyson Barrie to the Maple Leafs along with forward Alexander Kerfoot on July 1. Marner played with Barrie for Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Hockey Championship and was impressed by his skill set.

"He's a great defenseman and will bring a lot of depth to our [defensemen]," Marner said. "He's got great vision on the ice, he's a D-man who can get shots through from the point when it seems like it's almost impossible to get shots through. He just adds another puck-moving defenseman to our team with a lot of skill."

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