You probably know by now, especially if you have a Twitter account or a cable package in Canada. If not, the Leafs have finally signed Mitch Marner to a six-year contract with an AAV of $10.893 million. Here’s the Elliotte bomb:
Marner 6 years in TOR. Done
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 13, 2019
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 13, 2019
As expected, the amount was over $10 million per season. If the rumors about Marner seeking a higher AAV than Auston Matthews were true, then good on Kyle Dubas for standing his ground (Matthews earns $11.634 per season), although there’s certainly a debate to be had as to whether Marner deserves more money than Matthews. At six years, this qualifies as more of a long-term contract, which could set the stage for more of the same from the other RFA signings that are sure to follow, possibly mere moments after I post this or you read this.
Now that the deal is reportedly signed, this is all the Leafs have to do to make the cap situation work.
The #Leafs currently exceed the upper limit by $13.4M. Even if they ice a roster of 20 to decrease that number, they will almost certainly have to place Horton, Clarkson and Hyman on LTIR at the end of training camp to create enough LTIR relief for cap compliancy at season start
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) September 13, 2019
The fantasy implications are simple: Rank Marner where you normally would, which in many leagues is as a top-20 player. This would be a great time to mention that Marner's projections have been updated in the Fantasy Guide. This would also be a great time to mention that the September edition of the Top 100 Roto Rankings will be ready on Sunday, and they will no doubt include Marner. Here’s August’s Roto Rankings.
NHL’s highest paid players:
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) September 13, 2019
Yes, three of the league’s seven highest-paid players suit up for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although Dubas has cleared a major hurdle and has all of the forward core signed long-term, he’s going to have his work cut out for him to try to take care of the likes of Tyson Barrie, Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, Cody Ceci, and Frederik Andersen over the next three offseasons. Lots of scoring, but will keeping the puck out of the net be an issue (if it isn’t already)?
More near-term, though, is that the Leafs are all in this season and should be considered a bona fide Stanley Cup contender. It won’t be easy getting out of the Atlantic with President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay, Stanley Cup finalist Boston, and upgraded (in net) Florida, but maybe eventually they’ll get past Boston.
Speaking of Tampa, it appears they are trying to convince Brayden Point to agree to take one for the team on a short-term deal. It’s not a Kevin Labanc hometown discount, but the Bolts are going to need more than that to secure Point.
Now let’s see how the Marner contract impacts other negotiations. It’s believed Tampa’s last offer to Brayden Point was around three years and $5.7 M AAV… both sides far apart.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 14, 2019
The Winnipeg Jets have granted Dustin Byfuglien a personal leave of absence. No word has been given on either the reason or the length of the absence. Sometimes these matters only require a few days away from the team, so it’s difficult to know whether this leave will affect whether Big Buff will be in the lineup on opening night. If he misses time, expect newly signed Josh Morrissey to step up in terms of minutes and power-play time in his absence.
As much as players can be pillars of your fantasy team, it’s still important to remember that they are human and still deal with similar personal challenges that we all face. Let’s hope for the best for Big Buff.
A few bits of info from one tweet:
Jim Nill updates us. Corey Perry has small fracture in foot. Will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Stephen Johns is not skating. They will not provide further updates. Julius Honka has asked for a trade.
— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) September 13, 2019
Two weeks from now gets into late September, which puts Corey Perry’s availability for the start of the season in doubt. When you consider that the 34-year-old Perry is already a significant injury risk (only 31 games played in 2018-19 with season debut in February) along with diminished production (10 points in those 31 games), this looks more “name player to avoid” than “bounceback candidate” to me. For what it’s worth, Perry has still stated that he hopes to be ready for opening night.
Is it just me, or did it seem like Julius Honka was the prospect you wanted on your team five years ago? He’s now 23, although it’s not inconceivable for a blueliner to make an impact after that age. But if you’ve been hanging on all this time and are thinking about making room for someone else, you might be safe to do so, depending on what else is out there. However, you may wish to wait to find out if he lands somewhere else and what that team’s plans would be for him before actually making the move. Yet so far, he hasn’t accomplished anything at the NHL level that would make me inclined to be patient with him.
This shouldn’t be a major surprise, but the Anaheim Ducks have announced that Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will both miss the entire 2019-20 season. Kesler underwent hip surgery in May, while Eaves was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Both players are now 35 years old and may not be able to continue playing at all.
Nolan Patrick is dealing with an upper-body injury and hasn’t been cleared for on-ice activity. The injury is considered week-to-week, so there should still be some concern for his availability for opening night. Patrick has already dealt with his share of injuries, and his place on a scoring line wasn’t assured even before the injury (see Kevin Hayes signing impact). Patrick’s value in keeper leagues should exceed his value in single-season leagues already anyway. Again, we may have the desire to rush prospects into universal fantasy relevance, yet Patrick is still only 20 years old and still appears a way away from reaching his peak, both in terms of production and situation.
Regarding line combinations: Some teams are breaking up their camp rosters into two groups, which will give teams more flexibility to experiment different players outside of the normal units. So I’m not going to get hysterical about (up-and-comer) playing on a line with (franchise player). Yet. In fact, it might be one of those “the less you know the better” instances. But maybe I’ll get excited about something soon.
Like maybe this:
#NYR Coach Quinn says Buchnevich will start camp on a line with Mika & Panarin; Chytil, Andersson and Howden will start camp at center.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 13, 2019
Thoughts, Kaapo Kakko owners? I could see more fantasy leaguers drafting Pavel Buchnevich as a later-round sleeper as a result. David Quinn did say later that Kakko and Vitaly Kravtsov would “need to earn” top-6 roles, then admitted that things could change in 10 days. Also remember that things could change during the season and that lines are never permanent.
Or this, which had Canucks Nation buzzing:
Jake Virtanen will be in the third practice group at #Canucks camp along with many guys who will likely end up in Utica. Have to wonder whether the coaching staff is sending a message about conditioning.
— Brendan Batchelor (@BatchHockey) September 13, 2019
Funny that the guys who could benefit the most from a Brock Boeser contract stalemate could be Jake Virtanen and Nikolay Goldobin. Yet with Virtanen failing his physical, then the opposite could happen and he is either traded or sent to the AHL on a “conditioning” stint. I’ve heard on Vancouver sports talk radio that the Canucks still take many calls from other teams about Shotgun Jake, compared to other players that might be on the trade block. In addition, he has only played about 200 NHL games, so he still has a ways to go to peak if you follow the Striker model of power forward development. At this point, though, I don’t expect that “peak” to be any higher than second-line winger.
In case you were wondering whether the Dobber Tiered Invitational Leagues have already filled up, there are still a few remaining spots to compete against your fellow Dobber Hockey fans for fantasy glory. Don’t miss out! More information here.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.