Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner could be traded to the Blackhawks

Getty Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner could be traded to the Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks have been identified as a team that could be interested in Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner.

Shayna Goldman of The Athletic listed the Blackhawks as one of eight franchises that “could or should” explore trading for the Maple Leafs superstar if he becomes available.

“Chicago has the cap space to extend Marner to a high number on his next contract,” Goldman wrote. “But should it be in the market for a player like that just yet?”

Of course, that’s the main question the Blackhawks should ask themselves. There is no doubt Chicago has the cap room to complete a trade for Marner and to extend his expiring deal. An entirely different matter, however, is how Marner’s career and the timeline for Blackhawks contention align (or not).

For what it’s worth, Chicago will enter the offseason with $32.9 million of cap space but only 15 players under contract.


Chicago Blackhawks’ Potential Interest in Marner

Despite finishing with the second-worst record in the NHL last season, the Blackhawks have a promising future led by 2023 No. 1 pick Connor Bedard.

That said, Chicago’s brass must ask themselves whether they are ready to add a player like Marner at this rebuilding stage.

Completely out of context, no franchise would say no to acquiring a player of Marner’s talent (nearly a 100-point scorer), but things change when considering timelines.

Acquiring Marner could significantly impact the progression of the team and instantly improve the results on the ice, but from that to getting over the hump and making deep postseason runs there is a sizable gap.

Goldman put the Blackhawks in a similar position to the Anaheim Ducks in his column. Writing about the latter, she wondered whether or not it’s time to go for this type of transaction. She then said Chicago faces “similar questions” to Anaheim.

“Anaheim shows a promising future, but is that enough?” Goldman wrote. “And on the flip side, are they ready to add a difference-maker like Marner right now, or would that be too premature?”


Are Mitch Marner’s Days in Toronto Numbered?

Marner has had a notable career with the Maple Leafs earning him a six-year contract with an annual average value of $10.9 million in September 2019. With the contract expiring in 2025, Toronto will need to trade him now, extend his contract, or risk losing him for nothing.

Marner expressed his desire to stay with the Maple Leafs by signing a contract extension after the 2024 season ended.

“The goal is to be with Toronto long term,” Marner said during his exit interview on May 6.

The Blackhawks could leverage their cap space to extend Marner’s contract after trading for him. For that to happen, however, Marner would first need to agree to the trade by waiving his full No-Movement Clause. That’d depend on Marner’s perception of Chicago.

“The idea of playing with Connor Bedard for years to come could be compelling,” Goldman wrote. “But Chicago is further outside the playoff picture than Anaheim right now and has a long way to go in their rebuild, even with Marner in the fold.”

Marner had a productive 2024 regular season, scoring 85 points in 69 games, despite missing a month due to a high-ankle sprain.

Bedard scored 61 points in his rookie season with the Hakws appearing in 68 games and splitting that production into 22 goals and 39 assists. Chicago, however, was so bad that Bedard could only finish with an awful minus-44 plus-minus through 1,345 minutes of playing time.


How Could the Blackhawks Get Mitch Marner?

Goldman suggests the Blackhawks could offer assets such as right-handed defender Connor Murphy or even star Seth Jones if they retain part of his contract. Scott Powers of The Athletic floated the idea of trading Jones for Marner on May 21.

The main problem in Godlman’s eyes, however, is Marner greenlighting the trade.

“The real complication is whether Marner would want to go to a team so far removed from the playoff mix,” Goldman pointed out.

During the end-of-season media availability held by the Leafs in May, GM Brad Treliving said “Everything must be on the table,” via Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com. “When you go through a season as we have, everything must be on the table,” Treliving said on May 10. “Everything needs to be looked at. Everything needs to be considered.”

If this trade deepened exclusively on Toronto’s thoughts on Marner and his future, then it’s fair to assume things could advance much more quickly. That, however, is not the case.

“We’ve got to look at every possible way for our team to be better. Mitch controls a lot of this whole thing,” Treliving told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic on June 3. “We’re certainly not going to make a trade just so we can pound our chest and say, ‘Look, we’re different.’”

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