It’s what Toronto media has been talking about all year. And that is Mitch Marner‘s new contract. Eligible to sign an extension since July 1st, 2018, however, the negotiations have dragged on for quite some time. Mitch Marner and his agent claimed that he did not want to negotiate during the season. And now Dreger has reported they are waiting until July 1st and will be talking to other teams for offer sheets.
Assessing Possible Outcomes for Mitch Marner
What is the Value of Mitch Marner?
What is a player like Mitch Marner worth? It’s essential to establish this in order to determine what the Leafs should do. That includes matching an offer sheet or making a deal. He is reportedly asking for Auston Matthews money (11.634 x 5), however, is this what he should be paid? Jeff Veillette has Marner at $9,160,000 for 6-7 years, and Evolving Wild’s contract projections has Marner at $9,790,057 for 8 years. Both of these contracts make sense for the term they have. More years on the contract, the higher the contract AAV. At 8 years, 9.5-10 is a reasonable approximation, with 10 being on the higher end of the spectrum. Knowing this, we can now analyze and evaluate the different scenarios for this negotiation.
Worst Case Scenarios
This is the option that cannot happen. Dubas cannot afford to overpay on this contract. And if he gives Marner what he is currently asking, that’s $1.5-2 million over what he should be paying. The Leafs are in a cap crunch, which isn’t an awful thing as long as the roster remains competitive. But it does mean you can’t be overpaying multiple players, with Marner being no exception. With many criticizing Dubas on the amount of money he gave Matthews for such a short period of time, he cannot afford to overpay Marner as well.
Mitch Marner Accepts an Offer Sheet for $10,568,589 for 1-5 years
This is an option that people seem to be fine with at first glance. “Four 1st rounders for Marner? Yes please!” Actually, no. $10,568,589 is the maximum offer sheet you can sign while only giving up two 1st’s, one 2nd, and one 3rd round pick. This is as long as the deal is five years or less, once it goes into six or seven years the total contract value is divided by five for the AAV for compensation purposes. This is not as much as you’d like to get from a player as young and as good as Marner.
Marner Sits Out the Season
Nobody wants this to happen. Not Marner, not Dubas, not the fans. While it’s unlikely to reach this point, Dubas proved in the William Nylander negotiation that he is willing to wait the player out if he isn’t getting the deal he sees fit. A GM that won’t cave is a quality that you want in the person managing your team. No one wants to sit through that again, though. It’s also really important to the team that you have the full roster together in order to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Mitch Marner is Traded
This has the potential to be a fine scenario. However, with a player as young and as skilled as Mitch Marner, you’re likely going to be trading away the best piece in the deal. It’s hard to win a trade when your trading away a 22-year old that scored 90+ points last season. What you get in return for a trade is likely a combination of picks, prospects and players. However, odds are none of which will end up being the quality of player Marner currently is.
Best Case Scenarios
Marner is Signed at Fair Value
This is the scenario that everyone wants. Marner stays with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is signed for what he’s worth, and also doesn’t have an anchor of a contract. It’s the best of both worlds that everyone wants. With Marner being a fan favourite, it’s smart for the Leafs to try to keep the homegrown kid.
Marner Accepts an Offer Sheet at $10,568,590+
Now we get to the point where it’s four first-round picks as compensation. While $10,568,590 isn’t the absolute number depending on the number of years, it’s the number where no matter how long the contract is, the Leafs get four firsts. The actual description, according to CapFriendly:
The AAV for an offer sheet, which determines the compensation required, is derived by dividing the total contract value amount by the lesser of:
Number of years offered, or
Five (5) years
While losing Marner is not ideal, receiving the four firsts and the ability to pick up players in free agency cannot be overlooked. If the Leafs were to use the cap space (albeit, it’s a big if) to get a player like Artemi Panarin or Erik Karlsson and walk away with the four first-round picks, that’s actually the best asset management for the Leafs.
It seems like while Marner wants to stay a Toronto Maple Leaf, he just wants to be recognized. His agent Darren Ferris has been putting the pressure on the team. He has mentioned they will seek offer sheets. An offer sheet has not been signed since 2013, however. It’s not something teams do often. If he does sign an offer sheet worth too much, Dubas has to be prepared to let one of his star players walk and just take the compensation.
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