After signing William Nylander under the wire, are the Toronto Maple Leafs now looking at having trouble signing Mitch Marner and Auston Mattews?
TSN’s Bob McKenzie said on Insider Trading that after signing Nylander, the Toronto Maple Leafs will now turn their attention to pending restricted free agents Matthews and Marner and he believes, in an effort to avoid a repeat delay like the team experienced with Nylander, the Maple Leafs would like to get those negotiations going right away with both players.
The question becomes, who goes first and who goes last?
Both Marner and Matthews face a potentially similar decision when it comes to their next deals. The Maple Leafs are not in a position to overpay either star and speculation is that neither wants to take a huge discount to stay with the team. Nylander faced a similar dilemma being first on the docket of players needing new contracts and his fear was that he'd wind up being the only player to take a financial hit. Should Marner sign first and take a deal, only to see Matthews get big money, or the other way around, things could get ugly.
While the consensus is Matthews will get the biggest money of all three players, McKenzie believes neither wants to be the first to sign because the second player would like to see what the first gets in his deal. In a way, Marner can use Matthew's deal as a comparable and Matthews can command top dollar once all the other stars are signed and their contracts completed. For Toronto, the problem is, someone has to be first otherwise the Maple Leafs have two more players sitting out after this season.
What This Means
Toronto has potentially three options. First, either sit both players in a room together and negotiate openly. Second, tell them your line in the sand and hope they agree at a more convenient time frame than Nylander did. Or, let players like Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, and Patrik Laine sign first with their respective teams to see what price the market sets for players with similar production. None are slam dunks that Matthews or Marner will have new deals in hand when the 2019-20 NHL season opens.