NHL Notebook: Which team could make the most sense for Mitch Marner to be traded to?

Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner
Photo credit:James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
14 days ago
The clock is ticking on Mitch Marner’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Since being drafted fourth overall in 2015, he’s found himself as one of the league’s top scorers in the regular season, racking up 194 goals and 639 points since his debut in the NHL. Those point totals have him in elite company in the league, being the 10th most since the start of the 2016-17 season.
For as good as he’s been there, his production has consistently slipped in the post-season, despite 11 goals and 50 points in 57 games being a respectable number. A year away from free agency, things may have come to ahead this year, with him scoring just one goal and three points in the Leafs’ opening-round series against the Boston Bruins, one where Toronto fell in seven games.
Marner was the top target on Frank Seravalli’s first trade targets list of the offseason for Daily Faceoff. The insider said, “If Toronto signals that no extension is coming, wouldn’t it be in Marner’s best interest to facilitate a move to a preferred destination to play out a contract year?”
On Tuesday, Seravalli’s colleague Matt Larkin dove into some spots where it would make sense for Marner, one year away from unrestricted free agency, to land, listing off the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Seattle Kraken and Utah as spots that could make sense.
Here’s what Larkin wrote about the Sabres, Kraken and Utah being options:

Buffalo Sabres

Why he makes sense: The time for patience has passed for a Sabres team mired an NHL record 13-year playoff drought. They have more than enough young assets, particularly at forward, to the point they can barely fit them all in the depth chart. The Sabres need veteran difference makers now. They’re swimming in cap space, with RFA goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen representing their lone major contract to work out for 2024-25. They have enough promising youth that they could build a competitive package in a trade offer; it could start with Dylan Cozens, for instance, and include another prospect or first-round pick. And from Marner’s perspective, a short jaunt down the QEW would mean he can change teams without uprooting his life.
Fly in the ointment: Would the Leafs want to trade Marner within their division and have to face him four times a year? Would being so close to Toronto not feel like enough of a fresh start for him? And would he be willing to take a step back in his pursuit of playoff glory by joining the team known for never making the playoffs?

Seattle Kraken

Why he make sense: The Kraken’s trajectory has been strange. They levelled up in Year 2, got to within one game of the Western Conference Final and elevated fan expectations in the process. The bubble burst this past season. Now their immediate future is cloudy. They looked nothing like a playoff team in 2023-24. But they have a new coach in Dan Bylsma, some exciting young forwards on the way in Shane Wright and Jagger Firkus and a really underrated goaltender in Joey Daccord. Marner would give them their first true star and accelerate their maturation as a contender. The Kraken also have quite a few veteran assets without too much term left on their deals who make for handy trade bait. Big blueliners like Adam Larsson and Jamie Oleksiak would likely appeal to Treliving.
Fly in the ointment: If I’m fielding a trade pitch from Seattle, I’m not giving up my perennial 90-point scorer for a lowball offer. I want Wright or Matty Beniers coming my way. But Seattle has only been building up its pipeline of young talent for a few years; would they have to gut it too much to acquire Marner?

Utah HC

Why he makes sense: New owner Ryan Smith want the Delta Center rocking for Game 1 and onward. What better way to cultivate a potentially enthusiastic new fan base than by securing a star to build around? Utah and GM Bill Armstrong also probably have the best variety of assets to offer, ranging from up and coming young players (Logan CooleyDylan Guenther, etc,), oodles of draft picks or, in a blockbuster scenario, a good friend of Matthews and potential new linemate in Clayton Keller. There are many interesting permutations to consider.
Fly in the ointment: As is also the case with the Seattle scenario: Utah is a long, long way from Toronto, where Marner has grown up. Moving cross-continent to an unknown hockey market would feel like a banishment in way. Would the Marner camp really want to gamble on his future when they have the ability to sit on the NMC and pick their landing spot next summer if it comes to that?

Rangers’ Trouba played with gruesome ankle injury

With the New York Rangers’ season ending last Saturday as the Flordia Panthers eliminated them in six games, the injury list has started revealing itself, specifically one for captain Jacob Trouba.
According to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker, Trouba, who missed 13 regular season games, played through a broken ankle in which he said “a big chunk of his ankle came off.”
As Walker alludes to, it came from a non-weight-bearing bone, so Trouba was able to manage the injury.
Trouba appeared in 69 regular-season games this year, scoring three goals and 22 points while averaging 21:15 in ice time. In the playoffs, he scored one goal and seven points in 16 games, averaging 20:59 in ice time.
He has two years left on a deal, paying him $8-million per year.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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