Darren Dreger shares concerning update on Mitch Marner.
John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports  

Darren Dreger shares concerning update on Mitch Marner.

Darren Dreger shares some concerning insight on what is happening behind the scenes with Mitch Marner in Toronto.

Jonathan Larivee

If you happen to be one of the many Toronto Maple Leafs fans that have been demanding to see the team break up their "core 4" group of forwards this summer, you may want to stop reading now.

On Monday, National Hockey League insider Darren Dreger indicated, for the first time that I am aware of, that trading Marner may not even be a priority for Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving. In fact, Dreger would reveal that he believes Treliving is more interested in keeping Marner with the Maple Leafs long-term than he is in trading him away.

"I think Treliving would rather extend than trade," said Dreger of Marner on Monday.

That is certainly not what a particularly frustrated segment of the Maple Leafs fan base wants to hear and especially not from someone as well connected to the Marner camp as Dreger happens to be. Longtime fans will remember that Dreger was so close to the Marner camp during his contract holdout that some fans even began to accuse him of being a mouthpiece for Paul Marner, Mitch Marner's father, and Darren Ferris, his agent.

Dreger was asked directly if he thought Marner would be a Maple Leaf at the start of the 2024-25 NHL season and he answered in the affirmative.

"Yeah," said Dreger of Marner remaining a Maple Leaf.

Dreger acknowledged that the possibility of a trade does still exist, although he made it sound like a bit of a long shot.

"Now if Brad Treliving has a conversation with a club, or clubs, and there is a potential trade scenario that develops in those conversations... he could take that to the Marner camp."

The insider would also reveal that Marner himself would prefer to remain a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward.

"I believe based on the people that I've talked to, Marner's preference is to play out his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs," revealed Dreger.

That would of course leave the Maple Leafs in an extremely precarious position with Marner walking to unrestricted free agency, a scenario where they could lose him for nothing, but Dreger pushed back on that.

"Doesn't mean that he's gonna walk out the door after next year," said Dreger. "Of course there's risk of that because he would be a pending unrestricted free agent, that's not the perfect position for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Marner negotiated his deal in good faith, including the no-move clause."

I'll be honest I think it would be a horrible mistake on the part of Brad Treliving to let Marner come into the season without a trade scenario worked out or without a new deal in place, but I don't think that will happen. Treliving experienced a similar situation first hand with former Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau when Treliving was the general manager of the Calgary Flames, a scenario in which the Flames got burned and lost the player for nothing. I don't think Treliving will entertain any scenario in which this could happen to him again.