There are a few ways things can shake out for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner. Some are better than others, but none of them are really all that terrible for the Maple Leafs. Things are looking more promising after both Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen signed, but fans, and possibly some members of the media are still on edge about the possible outcome. When the possibilities are broken down, however, there isn’t much the Maple Leafs have to fear.
Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner Possible Outcomes
The Dreaded Offer Sheet
There hasn’t been a signed offer sheet since 2013 when Ryan O’Reilly signed one with the Calgary Flames. The Colorado Avalanche matched Calgary’s offer but later traded O’Reilly. It’s a rare event in the NHL, and often a contentious one. This year, there has been a lot of talk about offer sheets for two reasons. One is that there are a lot of very good RFAs still unsigned. These players are realizing they have considerable leverage in contract negotiations and they’re using it. The other reason and this applies more to Marner, is the fact that Marner has gone public about speaking to other teams. Perhaps it wasn’t his intention, or maybe it was, but Marner’s activities have blown up social media leading to endless speculation.
Reminder the RFA interview period opens at 12:01am on the 26th and closes at 12pm on July 1. Marner among the group expected to have multiple team visits.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 24, 2019
If an offer sheet does become a reality. What does that mean for Marner and the Maple Leafs? There are three possible outcomes.
The Maple Leaf Match
The Maple Leafs will definitely match offers at or under $10.5 million. The compensation for losing a player at that salary two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and a third-round pick. That’s not enough for Marner. A salary of $10.5 million is also probably close to what the Maple Leafs are offering anyway. There won’t be an offer sheet at this dollar amount.
The Maple Leafs will probably match offers under $12 million. The compensation at this point is four first-round picks so Kyle Dubas will consider letting him walk, but they would rather have the player and $12 million isn’t that far off of what they want to sign him for.
The Maple Leafs Don’t Match
There’s a line somewhere. If Marner signs an offer sheet greater than $12 million, the Maple Leafs will have to seriously consider not matching the offer. Although it’s unlikely any team will offer him that much regardless of what Brandon Prust has to say.
Marner will get offer sheet for 13 mill for sure. But just to show everyone he’s worth that. Then he will turn it down and sign for same as Matthews and be the good guy that took less to stay in Toronto! He is worth 13 mill tho ppl. Most dynamic player in the world
— Brandon Prust (@BrandonPrust8) June 25, 2019
If someone does sign Marner to an offer sheet, like the New York Islanders out of spite or the New Jersey Devils because they can, the Maple Leafs will have a difficult time matching it. It’s not that the four first-round picks are a great return. They’re not bad. It’s more than the Maple Leafs will be hard pressed to spend $13 million on Marner regardless of what they would be getting in return for him. There’s only so much money to go around and an extra $2 or $3 million on Marner means yet another one or two minimum wage players in the bottom six or on the defence. Teams need depth to succeed and there’s only so much money to go around.
If the Maple Leafs do end up taking this route, it won’t be so bad.
Four First-Round Picks For Mitch Marner!
Four first-round picks can go a long way in the NHL. Now, no one knows if the picks will be top ten picks or if they’ll wind up being somewhere in the ’20s. The team giving them will have Mitch Marner playing for them after all. The value of those first-round picks will be valuable nonetheless. Especially this summer. Dubas could use them as trade pieces to beef up his defence, something that is sorely needed in Toronto.
A first-round pick in 2022 and 2023 won’t have as much value this year so losing Marner to an offer sheet is not ideal for the short term. In the long run, however, it could turn into an improved defence, a blue-chip prospect or two, and a trade commodity to be used at the trade deadline. That’s not terrible.
Another thing to keep in mind is the Maple Leafs will suddenly have cap room. That means they could re-sign Jake Gardiner and still have room to dip into the UFA market. Or they could try to make a bigger splash and go after a player like Artemi Panarin.
The Third Offer Sheet Option
If Marner is successfully wooed by another team, it’s possible the team will try to negotiate a trade to avoid an offer sheet. The offer sheet would be a fallback option for the team trying to sign Marner. The potential advantage to the Maple Leafs here is that while they might get less total value than four first-round picks, although that would depend on where those picks land, they would get more immediate value.
Marner could return a top pairing defenceman and maybe even a little something extra. It’s debatable if the Maple Leafs are better with Marner or without Marner and with a legitimate top pairing defenceman to pair with Morgan Rielly instead. It’s certainly not a bad thing to turn Marner into a top two defenceman.
Sign Mitch Marner
The best case scenario for all parties is to sign Marner in and around July 1st. If Marner wants to use his right to speak to other teams and then use those potential offers to help negotiate a deal with the Maple Leafs, that’s dandy. It’s his right and no one should begrudge him of that right. Marner and Dubas won’t officially know what other teams are willing to offer until the 1st. Once they do, they should quickly settle on a number and get the deal done.
Neither the team nor William Nylander benefited tremendously from Nylander’s hold out last year. Nylander never really found his legs and the team suffered for it. The last thing the Maple Leafs and Marner need is another holdout and an off year from arguably their best player.
Signing Mitch Marner within the next few days is both the best course of action and the most likely. How much he’ll sign for is to be determined. A good guess would be somewhere in and around $10.5 million a season.
Whatever the final outcome (outside of a hold out), the Maple Leafs will be better off now and in the future. Ideally, that’s with Marner playing big minutes for the blue and white, but if he somehow winds up playing elsewhere, the return for Marner, whatever it ends up being, is going to help this team.