Toronto Maple Leafs restricted free-agent forward Mitch Marner danced around contractual questions as he does around opposing players during media appearances at his own charity event Thursday, but he did make one thing clear.
Marner told NHL.com's Dave McCarthy he's unlikely to attend training camp if he doesn't have a new contract by the time it begins.
"Probably not," Marner said. "There's so much risk with that and it's just something you don't want to risk."
Marner said he's letting his agent, Darren Ferris, handle negotiations, adding he hopes a contract will be worked out before training camp kicks off Sept. 13.
"Hopefully sooner than later (something gets done)," he said. "I want to be there for the start of camp, so hopefully something will get done by then.
"My agent and (Maple Leafs general manager) Kyle (Dubas) are doing it and they're going to figure something out. I haven't been involved too much, I've been letting my agent deal with all this stuff and let him do the talking for me."
The Maple Leafs will have $9.07 million in cap space with 23 players signed once Nathan Horton is placed on LTIR, according to CapFriendly. That number will rise when some players are optioned to the minors.
It's crucial the Leafs get a deal done with Marner before the beginning of the regular season. If Marner signs with the campaign underway, the first year of his contract will be prorated, meaning the cap hit for 2019-20 will be higher than in later seasons. This occurred with William Nylander's contract last season, but the Leafs had sufficient cap flexibility at the time.
Marner is coming off a career-high 94-point season. The 22-year-old is arguably the face of this year's stacked restricted free-agent class and has been involved in more offer-sheet speculation than most of his RFA peers; the Columbus Blue Jackets are just one team that reportedly reached out to his camp to discuss the possibility of an offer sheet.