All Eyes Are on What the Toronto Maple Leafs Do With Mitch Marner

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by their rival, the Boston Bruins, thanks to David Pastrnak‘s series-clinching, game-winning overtime goal in Game 7.  There was talk of the Maple Leafs making changes before Game 5 of their series with the Bruins. Now that the series is over, the talk will get louder, and the focus will be on Mitch Marner.

The blow is not softened because William Nylander and Auston Matthews missed games due to injury. All the attention will be on the Maple Leafs’ effort, especially in Games 3 and 4. Considering what head coach Sheldon Keefe got from his team in Games 5-7, you have to wonder where that attention to detail was in those two games.

NHL Rumors: Changes Will Be Coming In Toronto, and Five Trade Destinations for Mitch Marner

However, when the core of this group has been together dating back to 2016 and has only won one playoff series in eight years, questions have to be asked about whether it is time to change the core. Those questions date back to the bubble when the Maple Leafs lost to Columbus in the play-in round.

The pieces around the core have changed, but the results have been the same. Depth players are necessary to win a Stanley Cup, but star players must show up and win the series. Mitch Marner did not show up for the Maple Leafs.

Marner had three points in seven games, not to mention only 12 shots on goal in the series. That is not good enough for a player eligible to sign an extension on July 1st. Marner has a current salary cap hit of $10.903 million. To have just three points in seven games is unacceptable.

We saw Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery call out his $11 million player, David Pastrnak, and he delivered. Though Pastrnak only had five points (three goals and two assists) in seven games, he stepped up when it mattered when goals were challenging.

NHL Rumors: If the Toronto Maple Leafs Lose …

This was Marner’s lowest point total in the playoffs. Now, he has 50 points in 57 playoff games, but it feels like he is afraid of the big moment. While he was defensively sound, being on the ice for the game-winning series-clinching goal and just watching the puck was a problem.

Marner has been the target of criticism in the past, and rightfully so. Star players need to perform in the playoffs. William Nylander does that. He is not afraid of the big moment. It feels like Marner. And that is a place the Maple Leafs need to start.

General Manager Brad Treliving has decisions to make, especially with Sheldon Keefe. Keefe is mostly likely gone, but stranger things have happened. But Treliving has to go to Marner and find out where he wants to play. Marner puts too much pressure on himself when he plays in Toronto during playoff time.

As Pierre LeBrun of TSN noted, Marner has control of where he plays as he has a no-movement clause and it will not be easy to facilitate these trades.

However, we saw the Tampa Bay Lightning figure out how to remove Ryan McDonagh, who had a no-movement clause, so nothing is impossible. But Treliving has to ask where he wants to go. Maybe he does the same with Tavares, but they might just let that play out.

Are We Sure Major Changes Are Coming with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Toronto can’t be afraid to let a player walk to free agency, especially if there is no trade partner. But the worst thing they can do is run this back again and sign Marner to a long-term extension at a higher AAV.

The time is now to make a change and start with Mitch Marner.