Report: Maple Leafs sign Mitch Marner to six-year contract

Apr 11, 2019; Boston, MA: Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner controls the puck against Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 11, 2019; Boston, MA: Mitchell Marner controls the puck against Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

The floodgates on an offseason stifled by a star-studded crop of restricted free agents should finally open, as the Toronto Maple Leafs took care of restricted free agent Mitch Marner on Friday, signing the forward to a six-year, $65.358 million contract (a $10.893 million average annual value), according to multiple reports.

The 22-year-old Marner finished with 94 points in 82 games last year, good for tops among all Toronto skaters, and the 11th-most in all of hockey, and this new deal makes him the seventh-highest paid player (sorted by cap hit).

In fact, Marner's new contract gives the Leafs three of the league's seven-highest paid players sorted by cap hit, with Erik Karlsson ($11.5 million) and Drew Doughty ($11 million) sandwiched between Auston Matthews ($11.634 million), John Tavares ($11 million), and now Marner. Add it up and you have three Toronto skaters accounting for $33.5 million of the team's $81.5 million salary cap. The Leafs also have forward William Nylander on their books at over $6.9 million per season, meaning Toronto is spending nearly half of their salary cap on four forwards.

That's not exactly the most palatable cap situation for a Toronto squad still in need of a defensive boost (the Maple Leafs allowed the 8th-most shots per game and 12th-most goals against per game last year) in their quest to push themselves ahead of the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning in a straight-up stacked Atlantic Division.

The Leafs will have to hope that Playoff Marner continues to be Playoff Marner, though, with five goals and 17 points in 20 career playoff games (and a four-nine-13 line in 14 postseason head-to-heads against the Bruins).

The Bruins, meanwhile, are still trying to work on new deals for restricted free agent defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, and with just over $8 million in available cap space to their name.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.