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Marner contract with Maple Leafs ends more than year of speculation

Restricted free agent forward reaches agreement in time for training camp

by Dave McCarthy / Independent Correspondent

TORONTO -- Mitchell Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to terms on a six-year, $65.3 million contract Friday, ending more than a year of speculation about the forward's future.

The 22-year-old, who was a restricted free agent, finished his entry-level contract last season with 224 points (67 goals, 157 assists) in 241 NHL games over its three years. He became eligible to sign a contract extension July 1, 2018, and said he would not negotiate a contract once this season began and would only resume talks once that season ended.

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

Here is a timeline of how those negotiations played out:

Feb. 5; Forward Auston Matthews signs five-year contract with Maple Leafs: Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas was asked if Matthews' signing could lead to in-season negotiations with Marner.

"I think that's been a pretty clear one," Dubas said. "We're respecting the wishes of (Marner's agent) Darren [Ferris], and if they were to change their stance on it, we're open to that, but right now we will respect their wishes and carry on with the season here."

April 25; Maple Leafs clean out lockers after losing to Boston Bruins in Eastern Conference First Round: With the season over, Dubas said of Marner's contract, "It's priority one for us and we'll get right to it.

"I'll call Darren here in the coming day or so and begin to see how they would like it to proceed, but Mitch has had an excellent season, he's a massive, massive part of everything we are doing here both in terms of his talent and ability, which has shown to be among the best in the League and in terms of the joy and leadership he brings to the club each day."

June 28; Maple Leafs re-sign restricted free agent forwards Kasperi Kapanen (three years) and Andreas Johnsson (four years): Dubas was asked how the signings of Kapanen and Johnsson could affect Marner, now Toronto's lone restricted free agent.

"We continue to talk with Darren and are continuing to have good dialogue with them," Dubas said. "I know it's a point of consternation within our fan base and publicly, but Mitch has been excellent throughout and Darren has been excellent in dealing with. We just continue to stay in touch and hope to move towards an agreement. What we think about Mitch is not up for debate: He's an excellent person first and foremost and an excellent young player, and I'm optimistic and feel good about where things will go in the future."

July 1; first day of NHL free agency: Dubas was asked following the initial wave of unrestricted free agent signings if there had been any progress on Marner's contract.

"It's important to us that we find a way to get this done," Dubas said. "I know I've set this as the priority and looked at today as a day we'd like to have it done by, and obviously we don't have that yet."

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: Marner

July 18; Marner holds his All-Star Invitational charity event: Marner said he would not attend training camp without a contract and was asked if he had spoken to forward William Nylander, who went through a similar negotiation before signing minutes before the Dec. 1 deadline to play last season.

"I've talked to him a couple of times and he said just stay calm with it," Marner said. "Your agent is dealing with it, let him and the team deal with it, so just stay relaxed, stay out of it and enjoy your summer. I haven't really been involved too much, I've been letting my agent deal with all this stuff and let him do all the talking for me. Hopefully it gets done sooner than later, I want to be there for the start of camp, so hopefully something gets done by then. My agent and Kyle are doing it and they're going to figure something out."

Marner said he was not aware of how the negotiations were being viewed by fans.

"I've stayed off all social media, I don't want to focus on anything on social media, there's nothing good on social media anyways," he said. "For me, it's just keep my phone away from me, relax and enjoy the summer."

Sept. 5; NHL Player Media Tour: Matthews was asked about Marner possibly missing games at the start of this season.

"I don't think anybody really wants this to drag out," Matthews said. "We'd love to see him [sign] as soon as possible. He's a big part of our team, so obviously when the season starts, you want to see him out there with everybody."

Sept. 12; Maple Leafs report for training camp: TSN reported the Maple Leafs made offers of a seven-year and an eight-year contract with an average annual value near $11 million. Dubas was asked if he felt Marner was being reasonable.

"I think in every negotiation, everybody thinks on their side that they are being reasonable and then the major argument then comes down to arguing about who is more reasonable than the other," Dubas said. "It happens in every negotiation whether it's at home, in business, or in public contract negotiations like this where there is strong public investment in the matter. At times they probably have thought we haven't been reasonable and I think its vice versa in every negotiation that we do."

Sept. 13; Marner agrees to six-year contract: On the first day of on-ice practice at Maple Leafs training camp, Marner received a contract worth almost $10.893 million per season (total value $65.358 million).

"I'm exactly where I want to be, in front of the greatest hockey fans in the world, proudly continuing the tradition with the Maple Leafs," Marner wrote on Twitter. "See you soon."

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