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Maple Leafs news and rumors: Marner, Liljegren & Brodie – Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I will look at the future of three players on the team’s roster. First, I will examine Mitch Marner’s ongoing and controversial journey, focusing mainly on his tenure with the Maple Leafs. He is one of the best players around, but his future seems to be up in the air.

Second, I will explore the potential of Timothy Liljegren, as he begins his journey with the team. Finally, I’ll look at TJ Brodie’s situation, as his time with the Maple Leafs may be coming to an end. Decisions in the organization are looming ahead for each player, and the Maple Leafs will face an important choice soon. How far will they go against one of these players who have spent so much time in the organization?

First thing: Maple Leafs’ Shift in Thinking: Keeping Mitch Marner

TSN’s Darren Dreger reviewed the Mitch Marner saga on Monday’s episode of The First Edition with Aaron Korolnek and Carlo Colaiacovo on TSN 1050 in Toronto. A longtime TSN pundit revealed that, while general manager Brad Treliving may have approached Marner’s camp about a trade in the offseason, Dreger seems to believe management would like to sign the 27-year-old to a contract extension.

Related: Maple Leafs Need to Trade Marner, Not Extend Him

As Dreger put it, based on people he spoke to, Marner would like to play out the final year of his contract with the Maple Leafs. Dreger added that it doesn’t mean he’ll be out the door after next season. But, of course, there is that risk because he will be an unrestricted free agent. As Dreger puts it, this situation is uncomfortable for the group. Well, that’s the situation the Maple Leafs and Marner negotiated (including the no-movement clause), and it works out that way.

Marner is coming off another regular season, scoring 26 goals and putting up 85 points in 69 games. However, his limited production in the playoffs – just one goal and three points in seven games during the team’s Round 1 loss to the Boston Bruins – fueled speculation that the Maple Leafs might opt ​​to move him before the final year of his contract.

Mitch Marner and Mark Giordano, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/Hockey Writers)

Marner’s deal is worth $10.903 million, which includes about 12.4 percent of next season’s $88 million salary. Since Marner carries a full no-movement clause, he effectively prevents the team from trading him without his say. Despite this, Dreger emphasized that extending Marner appears to be the route Treliving prefers, highlighting a change in thinking for the Maple Leafs. Instead of pursuing major changes, the organization seems bent on keeping the talented Marner — warts and all.

Item Two: Uncertainty Surrounding the Future of Liljegren’s Maple Leaf

The Maple Leafs are currently holding off on a new contract pending for restricted defenseman Timothy Liljegren. There appears to have been little involvement in contract negotiations between the Maple Leafs and Liljegren’s camp, indicating that the two sides may be looking to resolve issues. Guess the Maple Leafs are waiting to see how free agency unfolds. Once they figure out which players to add, they will decide where Liljegren fits on their roster.

Related: Horrible Leaf Decision Making Must Stop

The 25-year-old Liljegren had a stellar 2023-24 regular season, posting three goals and 23 points while averaging 19:39 of ice time in 55 games. With several other defensemen looking unlikely to return with the team (Mark Giordano and Brodie are two), Liljegren is headed to become an unrestricted free agent. His future is uncertain; Toronto could opt for arbitration, which results in a temporary deal and gives the organization another year to decide on his future. Alternatively, the team could offer him a long-term deal (around $3 million average annual value) to help stabilize their blue line.

Thing Three: Don’t Show TJ Brodie the Door Just Yet

Speaking of Brodie’s future, there has been a lot of speculation about it. Few expect him to return with the team. While it seems possible the Maple Leafs and the 34-year-old defenseman could part ways, there is a chance he could stay if he signs a team-friendly contract.

Brodie’s extensive knowledge, leadership, and defensive skills make him a valuable asset. His intelligence and ability to read the ice gives the team stability on the blue line, something important for a team that often struggles to maintain a strong defense. He’s probably a better choice than most defensive players the team could go out and sign.

TJ Brodie Toronto Maple Leafs
TJ Brodie, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / Hockey Writers)

In addition, Brodie’s versatility and reliability allow him to adapt to various roles within the lineup, making him a consistent and reliable presence. Like other players before him (Jason Spezza and Giordano), Brodie can accept a team contract, which will benefit the team financially while keeping his valuable services. His mentoring can contribute to the development of young defensemen in the Maple Leafs system, ensuring a strong defensive foundation for the future.

Of course, Brodie might want a big payday elsewhere, if he’s offered one. However, the Maple Leafs could benefit greatly by keeping him. My question is:

What’s Next for Maple Leaves? Measuring the Future of Maple Leafs Players

The Maple Leafs find themselves at the crossroads of these three key players and their future is bright. The organization invested heavily during that time, creating contractual and personal relationships that spanned several seasons. Maybe the group will start over. However, player retention and trade choices are complex, and several considerations affect any choice.

Related: Former Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner: Where is he now?

In professional sports, decisions about a player’s future are not made in isolation. It includes consideration of contracts, personal relationships, and the impact on the player and the team’s family. Removing a player by trade affects their career and personal life, disrupting their stability, hopes, and family plans. An organization that ignores these human factors risks gaining a reputation as a place players should avoid. As a result, it makes sense that the Maple Leafs balance the business side of hockey with the well-being of their players.

Maple Leafs management recognizes that a player’s value extends beyond their performance on the ice to their role in the locker room and community. The team must know that fostering a supportive and considerate environment is essential to attracting and retaining top talent. At first glance, such decisions seem easy enough to make. Logically, though, there’s a lot more involved than hockey fans or writers might realize.

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