No real clarity from Treliving on Marner's Maple Leafs future

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It would have been a sin, apparently, for Brad Treliving to reveal in Las Vegas what he thinks about Mitch Marner’s future in Toronto.

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Treliving, now well into his first full off-season as Maple Leafs general manager, told reporters in Vegas on Wednesday what anyone who watches the Leafs on a regular basis already knows.

“I’m not going to speculate on everything,” Treliving said, holding court a couple of days before the National Hockey League draft gets underway with the first round on Friday night at the Sphere.

“I want to make it real clear: Mitch is a star. Mitch is a superstar in the league. He has been that since he put on a Maple Leafs jersey.

“We weren’t happy how the year ended (with the first-round loss to the Boston Bruins). The focus isn’t on Mitch.

“As an organization and as a team, we felt we should have gone further than we did. When that happens, you have to look at everything. No different than 31 teams here, we’re going to try to make our team better … certainly he is a special player.”

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But the Leafs aren’t looking at everything. They’re not going to ask Auston Matthews or William Nylander to waive their no-move clause.

Treliving could cancel some of the white noise — but not all of it in a market such as Toronto — if he’d confirm whether he plans to extend Marner when that becomes possible on July 1.

What about trading Marner? Is Treliving trying to do that, never mind that Marner is in control with his no-move clause?

“I’m not going to get into all that,” Treliving said. “I’m just going to come back to what I said — great player. We’re going to continue to see how we can make our team better.”

Treliving didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no either. Let’s be honest. How exactly would moving Marner, no matter the return, make the Leafs better? Where would those almost-100-points a season come from?

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The white noise will continue until a) Marner is traded, b) Treliving is more forthcoming or c) we get to camp in September and Marner remains a Leaf. If you’re in Vegas this weekend, perhaps bet on the third option.

The defence

Treliving wants to make better his defence corps. Preferably, on the right side, and preferably, more than one defenceman.

The GM has in the range of $19 million to spend in free agency. A good chunk of that will be earmarked for D-men.

“I don’t think it’s a secret,” Treliving said. “Our defence is an area we would like to see if we can improve. Easier said than done.

“The difficulty is the types of players you are looking for usually are not available in the trade market. We’ve got some cap space, but you do look at the holes we have to fill and it goes quickly. We look at (defence) first before we commit too many cap dollars anywhere else.”

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Among those in free agency who are bound to pique Treliving’s interest are Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Sean Walker and Matt Roy. Brandon Montour, Brett Pesce or Brady Skjei would be great, but they could be out of Treliving’s price range.

The goaltending

Joe Woll needs help. Nothing new there.

“I don’t see an internal candidate right now that we’re going to promote with Joe,” Treliving said. “Whether that be the trade market or free agency, we’ve got to look at the goaltending.”

Woll’s injury history remains a part of Treliving’s consideration as much as Woll’s fine play when he is healthy.

“We’ve got a really good goalie,” Treliving said. “He has had some unfortunate instances of getting injured. You study that. Is there a pattern? I look at it with goaltenders, is it hips, is it groins? He has had some things that just have happened, that sometimes you get injured. Certainly, we want to help him stay upright.”

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Free-agent goalies linked to the Leafs include Laurent Brossoit, Anthony Stolarz, Cam Talbot and Kevin Lankinen.

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Discussions with the Leafs’ pending UFAs

Reading — or listening — between the lines, it’s apparent that Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi will hit the open market.

If Treliving adds on defence like he desires, there won’t be enough money to sign both Bertuzzi and Domi, or perhaps neither. Ditto for Jake DeBrusk, in whom the Leafs allegedly have interest.

“If you want to give yourself as much flexibility on the blue line, every dollar you spend up top maybe takes away from that,” Treliving said.

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“That’s not to say we wouldn’t sign a forward. We’re just not there yet. Some players we would like to retain, you’ve got X amount of dollars, you got X amount of seats, you just have to see if the math works.”

The door could still be open for a couple of the Leafs’ free agents on defence, Joel Edmundson and Ilya Lyubushkin. But if Treliving really wants to make a significant change, why re-sign either?

As for restricted free agents Timothy Liljegren and Nick Robertson, Treliving said there was nothing to report.

The first-round pick

The Leafs have the 23rd pick on Friday. Their prospect cupboard is not full. They would be foolish to trade the pick.

“I’m not opposed to moving it,” Treliving said. “I would say as I sit here right now, more than likely we are making the pick.”

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