New year, no Marner: Maple Leafs open camp without their leading scorer
Training camp is underway and once again the Toronto Maple Leafs are overshadowed by a player who is missing.
Restricted free agent Mitch Marner, who was last season’s top scorer, , remains unsigned.
A year ago, it was William Nylander who was a training camp holdout.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas spoke briefly about the Marner situation on Thursday, saying he will not talk publicly until a deal is done.
"I think one of the things we've learned is once it starts, continuing to give updates and continuing to discuss it is not always the best," Dubas said. "I know it doesn't serve uh the media and the public overly well and learning from that, that's why we want to handle it that way and we'll roll from there."
Marner scored 26 goals and 68 assists for a career high 94 points last season.
According to TSN's Darren Drager, the Leafs have been pushing for a seven-or-eight-year extension with the 22-year-old. The average salary per season is in the $11 million range.
Drager said that the Marner camp is more focused on a three-year extension.
Last year, William Nylander did not end up signing with the team until Dec. 1, just minutes before a deadline that would force the player to sit out the season. The long holdout led to constant questions from the media, especially as the deadline approached.
On Thursday, players were also willing to speak about Marner.
"You know that's kind of our of our control as players so you kind of leave that up to the staff and Mitch's team to obviously get something resolved and as players there's really nothing you can do you hope for the best,” said Leafs centre Auston Matthews.
Centre John Tavares said that he enjoys playing with Marner and that the two developed chemistry last season, but there is only so much you can control.
"If he's not here at this point you gotta focus on what we have to focus on and preparing for the season with everyone we have here and hopefully to get the results we want," Tavares said.
Maple Leafs Coach Mike Babcock was quick to point out that the team has a large task ahead in welcoming new players into the fold.
"We had a lot of change over the summer. Our staff's done a real nice job of uh acquiring players and moving them around," he said. "We've got a really big job here of this is a much change as I've seen since I've been in the National Hockey League. So we gotta get up and running."
In the offseason, the Leafs added blue chip defensemen Tyson Barrie from Colorado in a trade for Nazem KAdri. Cody Ceci was then added in a trade from Ottawa that sent Nikita Zaitsev the other way. The Leafs also signed veteran centre and GTA native Jason Spezza as a free agent.
The team will go through fitness testing and some promotional photographs on Thursday before they board a plane to St. John's, Newfoundland where they will hold most of camp.