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NHL Rumor Mill – April 3, 2024

Should the Maple Leafs trade or re-sign Mitch Marner: Will Brock Faber get a big pay raise from the Wild? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

WILL THE LEAFS TRADE OR RE-SIGN MARNER?

NHL.COM: A reader asked Dan Rosen if the Toronto Maple Leafs should part ways with Mitch Marner if they fail to reach the Eastern Conference Final this year.

The 26-year-old winger has a year left on his contract. Teammates Auston Matthews and William Nylander have already signed long-term extensions with the Leafs.

Rosen believes the Leafs must re-sign Marner because he’s too valuable. Along with his point production, he plays big minutes, handles tough matchups, and plays on the power play and the penalty kill. “He’s a Selke Trophy player,” wrote Rosen.

The Leafs won’t win a Marner trade unless they get back an elite No. 1 defenseman in his prime of the same age.

Rosen points out the salary cap will likely be north of $90 million when Marner’s new contract begins in 2025-26. By that point, John Tavares’ contract comes off their books. He believes the Leafs should sign Marner to a long-term contract extension before next season and project their cap out from there, assuming that Marner, Matthews and Nylander could account for $38 million of their payroll for ’25-’26.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of his current contract. Rosen is projecting that the annual average value of Marner’s next deal will be the same as Matthews’ $13.25 million. He might get a tad less than that but it will be a raise over his current $10.9 million.

I’ll be surprised if the Leafs don’t re-sign Marner this summer. They’ll want to avoid his contract status becoming an unnecessary distraction next season. As Rosen observed, he’s their “do-everything” forward. His overall contributions at times go unappreciated by some denizens of Leafs Nation.

The only question is how long that deal might be. He could take a page from Matthews’ book and ink a four-year deal that gives him another shot at free agency in his early 30s when he’ll still be in his playing prime.

What do you think, Leafs fans? Is Marner too valuable to trade away? Is he worth as much as Matthews? Let us know in the comments below.

BROCK FABER COULD GET A BIG RAISE FROM THE WILD

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo and Shayna Goldman believe Brock Faber could get the richest contract extension in Minnesota Wild history.

The 21-year-old defenseman is in the second year of his three-year entry-level contract. His performance this season could earn him the Calder Memorial Trophy as this season’s top NHL rookie.

Some observers compare Faber to Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who has an eight-year deal worth an average annual value of $9.5 million. The Dallas Stars’ Miro Heiskanen is earning $8.45 million annually for eight years.

A contract for Faber exceeding $9 million annually might make some wild fans nervous but the NHL is trending toward bigger second contracts for rising young talent.

Russo and Goldman point to the Wild signing Matt Boldy to a seven-year, $49 million deal. They also noted that inking Faber to a bridge deal could mean a more expensive third contract.

When Faber’s next contract kicks in the salary cap could reach $92 million. By then, the Wild’s $14.7 million in dead cap space from buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will drop to just $1.66 million annually to 2029.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Faber has done a remarkable job filling the role of No.1 defenseman for the Wild during his rookie season. He’s earned a significant raise, especially if he wins the Calder Trophy.

Faber will be a restricted free agent next summer and lacks arbitration rights. Wild general manager Bill Guerin doesn’t have to sign him this summer. He can see how the young blueliner performs during his sophomore campaign before getting down to serious discussions.

Guerin could be reluctant to invest in a big raise for Faber only to risk seeing him struggle to meet expectations. On the other hand, the cost of re-signing Faber will rise if the young blueliner exceeds this season’s performance.

I think Guerin will sign Faber this summer to an eight-year extension worth $9.5 million annually.

Too much? Not enough? Should Guerin sign Faber this summer or wait until next year? Let me know what you think in the comment section.

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