Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs negotiating, GM optimistic RFA will play in opener

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Thursday he remains “optimistic” that restricted free agent Mitch Marner will be signed by the team’s season opener on Oct. 2 against the Ottawa Senators.

Dubas added that he would not comment on negotiations with Marner again until the situation “is resolved one way or another,” noting he didn’t find providing updates on William Nylander’s contract negotiation productive last year.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported Wednesday that the Maple Leafs have been “persistent” in pushing both seven- and eight-year extension offers to Marner this summer. He added the Maple Leafs made an offer of $11 million per season in June, which included the $1.6 million Schedule B bonus Marner did not receive in his entry-level contract.

TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie reported, however, that since the average annual value was lower than Auston Matthews’ new contract on a longer term, the $11 million salary hasn’t been palatable to Marner’s camp. Matthews signed a five-year, $58.17 million contract with the Maple Leafs in February, which carries a cap hit of $11.634 million through the 2023-24 season.

Marner is currently one of about a dozen high-profile restricted free agents coming off of entry-level deals that have yet to re-sign with their squads ahead of training camp.