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Maple Leafs and Predators Swapping Marner for Saros Is the Perfect Trade – Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

It's been almost a week since the Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from the 2024 NHL Playoffs. The pill is never easy to swallow; there is hype and love surrounding the team only to see it fail again. But this time it seems like the last straw; it looks like there could be some real change coming this offseason.

With new general manager (GM) at the helm, Brad Treliving, he will want to make this team his own and get his fingerprints all over it. On top of that, he will also have the challenge of what to do given the five big players. There's about $50 million locked up between the five players, and you'll need to find a way to deal with that. Ideally, he'll look to move on from one of the team's five main pieces, and if he can create, maybe two. Senior is Mitch Marner; He's entering the final year of his contract and will want a big payday somewhere around or above William Nylander's $11.5 million per season.

Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Morgan Rielly, and William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Treliving and the Maple Leafs can go to Marner's camp and tell them they don't plan to pay him the money he's asking for. They can use this as leverage and convince him to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, he is holding back when it comes to the teams he wants to go to, but if he can come to an agreement, the Maple Leafs could have a close trade partner in the Nashville Predators. They can sign and trade with the Predators if he's going to sign, and he'll be on a playoff team and can get the money he's asking for. Let's explore the idea further.

Full Trading

Toronto Maple Leafs Acquired: Juuse Saros, Jeremy Lauzon, 2024 2nd Round Pick & 2025 1st Round Pick

Nashville Predators Signed: Mitch Marner (eight-year extension) and Calle Jarnkrok

Marner's Fit and Predators

Marner is a Markham-born hockey player who dreamed of one day playing for his boyhood Maple Leafs. He, unlike many others, that dream came true when they were drafted in 2015. the hometown kid will grow up before our eyes and help lead the Maple Leafs to the Stanley Cup. Well, it's been nine years, and he and his team have only won one playoff series. On top of that, the pressure from the media has been getting worse, and over the years, he has become increasingly resentful of it. After losing this year to the Boston Bruins in the first round.

Enter the Militants; Marner's fit is also as close to perfect as it gets. They need a star player, preferably a center, but a star. With Marner, they will be getting just that; he can score 95–100 points per season, play in all situations, and with the possibility of less media pressure, he can finally play in the playoffs. Since this deal is a sign and trade, the Predators will be given time to talk to their agent and work out a deal. Marner can get anywhere in the ballpark north of $11.5 million for eight full seasons. In fact, he'll want $12 million per season for eight seasons.

Related: Map Leaves Add Multiple Defenders if Marner is Moved

The Predators will also welcome back Calle Jarnkrok, who is very familiar with the organization and their GM, Barry Trotz. With a modified no-trade clause, he may leave his former team on the roster, allowing Treliving to sign him in a deal that clears $13 million off the books. For the Predators, they will be adding about 120-140 points per season to Marner and Jarnkrok.

The Maple Leafs' Return

When a team trades for a player of Marner's caliber, you basically expect to lose the trade. Most teams never win these types of trades, and in the case of the Maple Leafs, they know it. Their goal will not be to “win” the trade but to get a decent value in return and ultimately open up space while helping the organization stay competitive. This deal with the Predators does just that. They will be buying Juuse Saros, a true first baseman in the NHL, and Jeremy Lauzon, a Treliving-style defenseman. Saros is also entering the final year of his contract, and with Yaroslav Arskarov waiting in the wings to take the crease, the chances of him wanting to stay longer are slim. The deal allows him to play in a new city with a new team and, if he wants, re-sign with his new team.

Juice Saros Nashville Predators
Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Saros is exactly what the Maple Leafs need—a goaltender who can steal games and not be a starter. No disrespect to Ilya Samsonov, but his time with the organization is probably over, whether this deal is done or not. If Treliving were to pull out of this deal, it wouldn't really be a “loss” because it addresses major needs in the roster; they will have the goalkeeper they lacked since Freddie Andersen, who can block shots when he needs him the most and will not give in under pressure. The Maple Leafs will be able to add him and protect the crease alongside Joseph Woll and Dennis Hildeby throughout Auston Matthews' contract. Treliving should offer a new deal in the region of $6.5–$7 million over the next four or five seasons. Right now, he's signed for $5 million and will likely want a raise, and since the Maple Leafs don't have Marner's contract on the books, they'll be able to offer Saros $6.5-$7 million.

Related: Map Leaves Need to Move On From Marner or Rielly

Additionally, Lauzon is a bone pole; he threw the most hits in the NHL last season and likes to play on the defensive side of the puck. He is similar to Joel Edmundson, whom Treliving acquired at the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline, in the style of play he brings to the team. Lauzon is a left shooting defenseman who can play either side and could find a home pairing with Simon Benoit or Edmundson if they add him. They will also receive two draft picks: a second-round pick in the upcoming 2024 Draft and a 2025 first-round pick. Not only is it important to get as much return as possible when parting with a top player like Marner, but it's also important for the team to recoup the rest of the money.

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As already mentioned, the Maple Leafs will realize that they will likely lose this trade if they decide to trade Marner. That may only be on paper, though, as this deal in particular could give the team some much-needed cap space to address other areas of need. In the end, it would be a priority for the Maple Leafs to one day win the Stanley Cup, which would not make this trade a 'loss'. This is the exact reason why Treliving should give the Predators a call and make a Marner for Saros deal, as it helps both sides find potential missing pieces.

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