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Marner will work out contract with Maple Leafs, Tavares says

Center optimistic 'right thing will happen' in free agent forward's negotiations

by @NHLdotcom

Mitchell Marner is unsigned less than five weeks from training camp, but John Tavares says he remains confident the restricted free agent forward will sign a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"There's a lot of restricted free agents unsigned still, a lot of guys in a similar position as him," the center told TSN in comments posted on its website Sunday. "So there's still some time here and I think we all believe the right thing will happen and something will get worked out. I think that's what both sides obviously want. 

"Sometimes it takes a little bit longer than others, and Mitch is obviously an important player for our team, just the type of guy he is as well. We really count on him, so obviously we want to get him there for Day One of camp and get moving forward and continue to kind of build this thing and work toward the ultimate goal." 

Marner led the Maple Leafs with 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games last season. The 22-year-old said last month that he is staying out of the negotiations but is unlikely to attend training camp if an agreement isn't reached by then. Camp begins Sept. 13.

Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said Aug. 3 that Marner and the Maple Leafs remained at a similar state in their negotiations.

"It's just really the status quo at this point," Dubas told TSN. "And I think the reality is, it's the status quo with all these types of players throughout the League. There doesn't seem to be anything really transpiring, and as it gets into August, it's kind of into a bit of a slog where there doesn't seem to be any real progress, you don't even hear of any progress in any of the other situations."

Marner is one of several high-profile restricted free agents who remain without a contract more than a month after being eligible to sign one.

Winnipeg Jets forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point, and Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser are among those who have not signed.

Forward Sebastian Aho is the only restricted free agent to receive an offer sheet since becoming eligible July 1 (the Carolina Hurricanes matched the five-year, $42.27 million contract tendered by the Montreal Canadiens).

The Athletic reported this month it is believed the other players are waiting for Marner's potential contract to set the market.

Regarding Marner's contract status, Tavares said last month there was "no doubt in my mind that something will get done here eventually."

The Maple Leafs were in a similar situation a year ago; 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.

Tweet from @TSNHockey: ���We all believe the right thing will happen...���John Tavares on Mitch Marner's contract as training camp gets closer #TSNHockey

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