Leafs Trade Proposal Flips Rangers’ 120-Point Scorer For Mitch Marner

Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers.

Getty Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers.

The Toronto Maple Leafs could make Mitch Marner available for trade as they start a new era under head coach Craig Berube, and there is no storage of proposed trades hitting the rumor mill these days.

Could the Maple Leafs find a trade partner in reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners the New York Rangers?

NHL analyst Brian La Rose of Pro Hockey Rumors answered a few readers’ questions in a mailbag published on June 15. One user proposed a “straight up” trade between the Leafs and the Rangers.

“Panarin straight up for Marner,” user frozenaquatic suggested. “NTCs notwithstanding, who says no?”

The user believes such a trade “fills organizational holes for each, and opens up first-line (left wing) for (Alexis) Lafreniere.” Moreover, the user thinks “Panarin’s a little better but Marner is a little younger,” with both players having “similar contracts.”

The trade proposal and the reader’s explanation prompted La Rose to tackle the idea with his expertise and knowledge of the NHL and both teams and players involved in the swap.

Leafs & Rangers Are ‘Likely to Reject It’

La Rose thinks this idea is rather complex and he noted that while the proposal has merit, both teams are likely to reject it.

“In a vacuum, I don’t dislike the offer for either side; your quick logic makes sense,” La Rose wrote. “I do think both sides would say no, however.”

La Rose’s reasoning is solid. He explained that Toronto’s motivation for trading Marner would be to strengthen other parts of their roster, not to make a one-for-one type of deal in which they’d get a similar (albeit perhaps a bit better) type of player.

The Leafs are looking to bolster their defense and to acquire a No. 1 goaltender. None of those needs would be addressed by landing Panarin from New York.

“Maybe (the Leafs trade) for a prominent blueliner, a power forward, a future center to possibly replace John Tavares, or a combination of the three,” La Rose wrote. “Artemi Panarin does none of that.

“He gets them an extra year of club control at a slightly higher price tag which isn’t nothing but that’s not the type of roster shakeup I think they’d be looking to do.”

Panarin’s Appeal to the Maple Leafs After 120-Point Season

Panarin had a career year in 2023-24 leading the Rangers to their fourth Presidents’ Trophy title as the best regular-season team in the NHL.

The Russian forward had an outstanding regular season, playing in all 82 games and scoring a career-high 120 points (49 goals, 71 assists). Peter Baugh of The Athletic graded Panarin’s regular-season performance with an “A+” but only handed the winger a “C” grade for his postseason play.

“Panarin put together one of the greatest regular seasons in New York history. His 120 points are the second-most in a single season by a Ranger behind only Jaromir Jagr (123 points in 2005-06),” Baugh wrote.

In the 2023 postseason, however, Panarin clearly upset Rangers fans with a paltry seven-game, first-round performance in which he only scored 2 assists against the New Jersey Devils. Panarin improved in 2024 but he still fell short of expectations in Baugh’s eyes.

“Panarin’s big test was always going to come in the playoffs. He certainly showed more than (in 2023), scoring 4 game-winning goals,” Baugh wrote. “Still, his production dipped from the regular season. He had only 4 points in six games against the Panthers, and his lone goal of the series didn’t come until there were less than two minutes left in Game 6.

“Overall, he had a serviceable playoffs but ultimately didn’t raise his game as much as New York needed.”

Panarin is under contract through the end of the 2025-26 season with a cap hit of $11.6 million. According to CapFriendly, he signed a seven-year, $81.5 million deal in July 2019 that includes a No-Move Clause allowing him to block any trade.

Mitch Marner, Toronto’s Odd Man Out

Marner’s 2024 season featured both highs and lows. According to Joshua Kloke and James Mirtle of The Athletic, Marner had a regular season worth a “B” grade.

“This wasn’t Marner’s best season, but that’s in part because of how high of a bar he has set in regular seasons past,” they wrote.

Marner finished the regular season with 85 points missing 13 games. He scored 26 goals and provided 59 assists in the 69 games he played in 2024. Marner also scored 3 points in seven postseason games. The Leafs drafted him with the No. 4 pick in 2015.

Following their elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the first round, the Leafs front office said everything would be considered.

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun reported on June 9 that the Maple Leafs are open to trading anyone except Auston Matthews and William Nylander, confirming the front office’s statements.

“Here’s the plan, much as there is one: The Leafs have basically let it be known in the hockey world they are in trade mode. Just about anyone and everyone is for sale except for Auston Matthews and William Nylander,” Simmons wrote.

Marner, who has one year left on his six-year $65 million deal and has a full NMC is the Maple Leafs’ best trade asset and also the most expendable one.

Even then, trading Marner for a different type of player would be better than flipping him for a similar winger. One possibility is sending Marner to Vegas in exchange for Shea Theodore and Logan Thompson, something Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman floated on Wednesday, June 12.

There is an alternative trade proposal the Rangers can explore; that one is built around a swap of Kaapo Kakko for Ottawa SenatorsBrady Tkachuk.

Read More