Leafs’ Mitch Marner Linked to LA Kings After Pierre-Luc Dubois Trade

In an unexpected albeit unsurprising move before the NHL draft, the Los Angeles Kings traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Washington Capitals on June 19. In the eyes of insider Kevin Weekes, the Kings might have put in motion a larger trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Kings sent Dubois to the Capitals in exchange for goaltender Darcy Kuemper, but most importantly the transaction cleared $2.75 million in cap space.

The @LAKings have acquired goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Washington Capitals in exchange for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. pic.twitter.com/7B6IwpHA5W

— LA Kings PR (@LAKingsPR) June 19, 2024

This trade and its aftermath led Weekes to speculate on a potential Kings trade for Leafs forward Mitch Marner. Weekes presented that idea on TSN Overdrive on June 22, suggesting the Kings might be positioning themselves to acquire the Maple Leafs superstar in an offseason trade.

“First of all, I can’t believe Los Angeles got off that (Dubois) deal,” Weekes said. “Now that they’ve opened up that money, why not go big-game hunting? Why not go Mitch Marner hunting?”

CapFriendly projects the Kings to have a sizable $23.4 million of cap space entering the offseason. Los Angeles only has 13 players under contract in their active roster.

Why Mitch Marner Makes Sense for the LA Kings

After starting the 2023-24 season strong, firing head coach Todd McLellan in February, and clinching a postseason berth ultimately failing to win more than a mere one game in the playoffs, the Kings are under pressure to make significant moves and improve their results on the ice.

Marner would be a valuable addition to the Kings and help the team get over the hump, or at least win a round for the first time since they last did on their way to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

The Leafs winger has not reached 100 points in a single season but he’s bagged 85-plus points in three consecutive years. He’s a consistent 30-goal, 90-point forward, which the Kings have not had in a while. Only Anze Kopitar has had a season of 85 or more points donning a Kings sweater in the past 20-plus seasons.

Marner would fit well with other defensively apt forwards already in Los Angeles such as Kopitar, Phillip Danault, and Trevor Moore. Consequently, Marner could focus more on the offensive play than on defensive duties.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Marner is entering the final season of his six-year, $65 million deal with the Leafs. The Kings wouldn’t have a problem signing Marner to an extension immediately after trading for him as they have the cap space to sign the forward.

Why Maple Leafs & Mitch Marner Could Accept This Trade

For the Kings to trade for Marner, he would need to waive his no-move clause. That said, Los Angeles presents an interesting market and a legitimate hockey scenario going forward.

The Kings have not contended for a decade but are always a postseason team. That’s not worse than the Leafs’ current outlook. Moreover, Marner would instantly be the face of the Kings franchise as Los Angeles moves on from the Kopitar era.

The Maple Leafs have made clear they will only trade Marner if it benefits the team, as GM Brad Treliving told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic at the NHL Combine on June 4.

“We’ve got to look at every possible way for our team to be better,” Treliving said. “Mitch controls a lot of this whole thing. We’re certainly not going to make a trade just so we can pound our chest and say, ‘Look, we’re different.’”

Alex Turcotte has signed a new 3-year contract with the @LAKings!

✍️: https://t.co/tUtQwTGckk pic.twitter.com/pLhiaTdy2g

— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) June 22, 2024

The Kings have several young players, high draft picks, and enough cap space to make an enticing offer. Potential returns for the Leafs could include high-profile prospects like Quinton Byfield or Brandt Clarke.

Additionally, the Kings could include recently signed Alex Turcotte and the Kings’ No. 21 pick in the upcoming draft if the transaction is completed before or during the event.

The Leafs want to bolster their defense corps and are interested in adding “some size” to their blue line, as reported by David Pagnotta of Daily Faceoff on June 19. They could get that in Kings blueliner Clarke as part of a potential Marner trade.

CapFriendly projects that Toronto will enter the offseason with just over $18.8 million in cap space, but they could open a massive chunk of space by dealing Marner’s $10.9 million cap hit away.

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