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Marner doesn't need to rush contract with Maple Leafs, Nylander says

'No worries at this point' for pending restricted free agent forward

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Mitchell Marner has plenty of time to sign a new contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, teammate William Nylander said Thursday.

But if Nylander's experience this season is any indication, it may not happen right away for Marner, who can become a restricted free agent July 1.

"I've talked to him a little bit, but it's just the beginning of summer, so there's a lot more time to go," Nylander said at the NHLPA Golf Classic at Glen Abbey Golf Club. "There's no worries at this point."


[RELATED: Qualifying offers extended to restricted free agents]


Nylander, who became a restricted free agent July 1, 2018, didn't sign his six-year contract with an average annual value of $6.9 million with the Maple Leafs until Dec. 1, ending a prolonged negotiation that caused the forward to miss the first 28 games of the season.

Marner, a forward, led the Maple Leafs with 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games in 2018-19 and is believed to be looking for a contract like the five-year contract with an average annual value of $11.634 million center Auston Matthews signed with Toronto on Feb. 5. Matthews also could have become a restricted free agent July 1.

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Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Sunday they would like to sign Marner as soon as possible.

"I'm always hopeful it will get done before July 1, but Mitch has his rights," Dubas said. "It's not on Mitch to free us up, he has his rights. He has been a fantastic player for us and person for us. We'll continue to work with (agent) Darrin Ferris and his people, and just carry on."

Nylander knows as well as anyone how difficult a contract negotiation can be. He didn't sign until minutes before the 5 p.m. ET deadline Dec. 1. If the deadline passed, he would have had to sit out the entire season.

"It's always a tough process, but in the end, I'm sure it will work out for both sides," Nylander said. "It was hard. There was always going back and forth, and then sometimes there was no talking at all. That's just a part of how negotiations work."

One X-factor in the Marner situation could be another team signing the 22-year-old to an offer sheet. If that happens, the Maple Leafs would have to match it to keep him, but Dubas said June 20 that there's no guarantee they would do so. If Toronto didn't match the offer sheet, it would receive compensation from the team that signed him in the form of draft picks.

"I haven't thought about the potential for (Marner leaving on) an offer sheet, but it's a case of every player just wants a deal that they think that they deserve," Nylander said. 


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