Blackhawks Seen as ‘Trade Landing Spot’ for $65 Million Maple Leafs Forward

The Toronto Maple Leafs might trade a superstar forward and Mitch Marner could land with the Chicago Blackhakws.

Getty The Toronto Maple Leafs might trade a superstar forward and Mitch Marner could land with the Chicago Blackhakws.

Another year, another upsetting end to a Toronto Maple Leafs season.

For the seventh time in eight years, Toronto was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs without making it past the first round, and insiders believe the Leafs will shake up the team this summer, including possibly trading forward Mitchell Marner.

Bleacher Report’s Joe Yerdon named the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks as a potential landing spot for Marner if he would consider waiving his no-move clause (NMC). NHL insider Elliotte Friedman also mentioned the Blackhawks as a potential landing spot by extension of Toronto’s potential interest in getting Seth Jones from Chicago.

“Chicago has oodles of cap space, and taking on Marner’s $10.9 million hit wouldn’t be a problem,” Yerdon wrote in a column published May 5.

He teased what could look like an unstoppable trio of Marner, likely rookie of the year Connor Bedard and consensus top prospect in the draft Macklin Celebrini.

“Asking him to play with Bedard and maybe Celebrini might be an easy sell for him to waive his no-move clause, and his all-around abilities to score points and defend well would go over huge in the Windy City,” he wrote.

Chicago has the second-largest odds for landing the No. 1 pick (13.5%) only trailing the San Jose Sharks (25.5%). Whoever wins the lottery is guaranteed to pick Celebrini coming out of college.

Chicago’s “moving prospects and/or a future first-round pick that should be pretty high” could “get the Leafs’ ears perked up,” he wrote.

Will the Maple Leafs Break Core-Four Before 2024-25?

The Leafs are considered one of the best teams, at least on paper, at forward. They boast an impressive unit featuring Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Marner and William Nylander.

But with more than $40 million of their $97 million payroll devoted to those four players alone, according to PuckPedia — along with another first-round exit — something has to give.

Marner will become an unrestricted free agent in July 2025 after the next season is over. He’s in possession of a full NMC, however, meaning he can block any trade Toronto agrees to and enter unrestricted free agency next year whether the Leafs want it or not. For the record, Marner said on Monday, May 6, that his “goal” is to sign a long-term extension with Toronto.

“The stars are aligned for the Leafs to shake things up and move on from Marner,” Yerdon wrote. “The 26-year-old has a full no-move clause, and with unrestricted free agency awaiting him, it’s a less-than-ideal situation for the Leafs.”

Marner is coming off a regular season in which he scored 85 points (26 goals, 59 assists) in 69 games to go with 3 points in 7 first-round postseason contests.

What Could the Leafs Ask For in a Mitch Marner Trade?

With their forward lines already set and under contract for many years at top-dollar value, the Leafs have a much more pressing need to bolster their defensive corps. That’s what Yerdon thinks and what he believes Toronto will try to get in return for Marner.

“Toronto, ideally, would land a No. 1 defenseman in any trade for Marner,” Yerdon wrote.

That said, Yerdon doesn’t believe Chicago would be able to trade No. 1 defenseman Seth Jones to the Leafs, noting that the blueliner also has a no-move clause he’d need to waive to facilitate a trade.

“Moving Marner and taking on Seth Jones (who also has a no-move clause) and his $9.5 million cap hit through 2029-2030 is probably not going to work,” Yerdon wrote, adding that trading Jones away is “not a hope that’s going to be fulfilled by Chicago.”

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