NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Mitchell Marner, Joonas Donskoi, More

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

The Toronto Maple Leafs are assessing the value of restricted free agent Mitchell Marner.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are assessing the value of restricted free agent Mitchell Marner.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The start of free agency will undoubtedly bring quite a bit of angst to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans.

That's because Mitch Marner, their leading scorer last season, is a restricted free agent. Players in that position usually stay exactly where they are because signing a restricted free agent is usually too costly in terms of both salary and the draft picks that the signing team will have to give up. 

That may be the case with Marner, but that won't make the Leafs feel any better. With high-priced players like John Tavares and Auston Matthews already on the roster, finding a way to satisfy Marner's salary needs will be difficult for general manager Kyle Dubas.

The Leafs are taking calls on Marner, per NHL insider Elliotte Friedman. That does not mean the Leafs will eventually trade Marner, but it makes sense to know his worth and to understand how many teams value his services.

Marner scored 26 goals and 68 assists last season and finished +22 during the regular season. He had a cap value of under $900,000 in 2018-19, slightly less than Matthews at $925,000, per Spotrac.com.

Matthews will earn below $16 million in 2019-20 with a cap value of just a bit more than $11.6 million. Even if Marner does not get a contract that is of equal value to Matthews, he is bound to take a big jump up in the coming season. The Leafs extended a qualifying offer to Marner Tuesday, a formality that allows them to retain negotiating rights.

Joonas Donskoi is a key free agent for the San Jose Sharks, and the fourth-liner said after the playoffs that he wanted to remain with the Sharks next season.

However, the signing of defenseman Erik Karlsson to a huge extension means that the Sharks are under the gun as far as the salary cap is concerned. 

In addition to Donskoi, the Sharks have other free-agent concerns, including Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc.

The likelihood at this point is that Donskoi will be moving on from the Sharks. According to Chelena Goldman of NBC Sports, a number of teams are showing interest in Donskoi.

Donskoi has informed the Sharks that he will talk to other teams at the start of free agency Sunday, but he has also let them know that the door is open to a return if they can find a way to give him an appropriate deal, per Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and TSN.

While Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky are two of the biggest names in free agency, they are not the only Columbus Blue Jackets who will be entering the market. Matt Duchene will also be looking for a full-time employer.

Duchene has informed the Blue Jackets that he will not be joining them before the signing period, per Craig Custance of The Athletic. He wants to find out his worth, and it is clear that Nashville is the leader in the clubhouse.