Team up with us for 99¢

Now that Mitch Marner has re-upped as a restricted free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canadians can get back to their everyday life in the Great White North.

His unresolved contract had been the focal point for the entire nation. Marner finally settled on a six-year deal with an annual average value of $10.893 million.

He got a shade less in AAV than teammates Auston Matthews and John Tavares. Marner didn't bet on himself with a shorter-term deal, but in six years he will be able to hit unrestricted free agency in his athletic prime.

So that was a compromise of sorts. He gained security and he will get a shot at even bigger money on his next deal.

The Leafs became the first NHL team with three forwards with eight-digit AAV contracts. Combined with William Nylander, those four will eat up $40.5 million under the salary cap -- which sits at $81.5 million this season.

Going forward, something will have to give if Toronto hopes to upgrade its so-so defensive corps.

Elsewhere in free agency, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy signed a shorter-term deal that is the new model for mid-level RFAs. His three-year deal carries a moderate $4.9 million average cap hit, but Year 3 pays him $7.3 million -- setting a high bar for the qualifying offer setting up his next contract.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have offered a shorter-term deal (a reported three years, $5.7 million AAV) to RFA Brayden Point. That won't fly. The Lightning have sufficient cap space to pay him real money, but the franchise has a history of getting players to sign team-friendly deals to keep a powerful roster in place.

While it would be surprising to see Point, Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche), Kyle Connor (Winnipeg Jets), Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks) or Our Town's Matthew Tkachuk (Calgary Flames) miss regular season games as unsigned RFAs, nobody would be shocked if mercurial winger Patrik Laine didn't sign a timely deal in Winnipeg.

Laine had a down season for the Jets -- that one five-goal outburst against the Blues aside -- and it's fair to wonder about his fit there. A short-term deal would make sense for both sides, but will Laine agree with that?

For now he is skating with SC Bern in Switzerland.

The Minnesota Wild are burdened by their gigantic contracts with defenseman Ryan Suter and winger Zach Parise, who will count a shade more than $7.5 million against the cap each season until 2025.

Previous general manager Paul Fenton gave free agent winger Mats Zuccarello, 32, five years and $30 million this summer before getting the axe. Then new GM Bill Guerin one-upped him by giving defenseman Jared Spurgeon, 29, a seven-year deal for a shade over $53 million.

(That contract reminds us that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo will get paid for real on his next contract. Lesser defensemen are getting crazy money in the league.)

The Wild could surprise this team by making the playoff bracket this season and winning a round or two. But at some point a total rebuild will become inevitable, given the advancing age up and down their roster.

These massive contracts won't make that process easier.

AROUND THE RINKS

Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka hasn't been able to crack the NHL lineup on a regular basis. So now he wants out. The Montreal Canadiens could use another good young defenseman. If the Carolina Hurricanes trade Justin Faulk, then they could factor in the chase as well. ... The Hurricanes have been in discussions with the Anaheim Ducks on Faulk, who has a year left on his current contract. If he could agree to a new deal with the Ducks, that trade could happen. The Hurricanes have targeted talented, but injury-prone winger Ondrej Kase as the return. Apparently the Ducks balked at Faulk's contract demands and those talks cooled. ...

While former Blues fourth-liner Kyle Brodziak had to retire due to nagging back issues, his former linemate Scottie Upshall is back from knee surgery and trying out for the Stars in camp. Other former Blues on camp PTOs include Chris Stewart (Philadelphia Flyers) and Troy Brouwer (Florida Panthers). Stewart played in England last season. ...

900-year-old defenseman Andrei Markov is campaigning for a NHL offer after two years in the KHL. The Canadiens have taken a pass, preferring to stress youth. Meanwhile, defenseman Slava Voynov gave up on the NHL and signed another KHL deal. His return to the NHL has been complicated by his league suspension for domestic violence. ... Evgeny Kuznetsov got off easy from the NHL with his three-game suspension for a positive cocaine test at the World Championships. The league has taken a softer stance on recreational drugs, stressing rehabilitation over punishment.


10 questions as the Blues open camp

Keep up with the latest Cardinals coverage from our award-winning team of reporters and columnists.




Tags

Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.