Marner sends serious message to Leafs as contract negotiations linger

What could this mean for his future with the team?

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The great news was quickly shared on social media earlier this week when Auston Matthews informed Sportsnet's Luke Fox that contract talks between the Toronto Maple Leafs and his party were already underway. 

Matthews still has one year remaining on his entry-level contract, which will pay him $925,000 in 2018-19. While he is set to become a restricted free agent after next season, the Leafs don't want to waste time and are getting to it now, as Matthews has been eligible for a contract extension since July 1, 2018.

It's unclear how much Matthews will be paid, however an eight-year deal with a cap hit somewhere between Buffalo Sabres' Jack Eichel's $10 million and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid's $12.5 million seems realistic and the best comparables possible. 

However, someone else, who is also eligible to a restricted free agent after next season following an entry-level contract, is looking to get paid. And to be taken more seriously. You heard that right, Leafs? 

Right winger Mitch Marner is coming off an impressive 69-point campaign to lead the Maple Leafs, and he has told TSN he is looking to be taken more seriously, especially now that contract talks have started with Matthews, but not him. 

"I want to be taken more seriously, I guess you could say," Marner told media at the Marner All-Star Invitational on Thursday night. "I love the jokes about getting called a five-year-old and six-year-old and all that stuff, as I find it very amusing and funny, but obviously I want to be taken a bit more seriously [in the locker room] and taking even more upon myself.

"I think all young guys do [want to be taken more seriously], we all want to put more pressure on ourselves and be better every single night and going forward that's what we have to do."

Marner also mentioned how excited he is to have the talented John Tavares on his team. If Marner and Tavares end up playing together and finding great chemistry on the ice, the Leafs might have no other choice but to give Marner a lucrative deal. 

Whether Marner plays on a line with Tavares or not is yet to be determined, but the Leafs' top winger surely sent a serious message to his team.