July 4, 2019 | 7:09pm ET
INTEREST IN MARNER HEATING UP?
Mitch Marner, right wing
As the Toronto Maple Leafs continue their contract discussions with restricted free agent right wing Mitch Marner, a few other teams appear to be lurking in the shadows.
As TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta reported on Thursday afternoon, at least one team is “very seriously considering presenting Mitch Marner with an offer sheet.”
Marner, 21, registered 26 goals and 68 assists for 94 points in 82 games with the Leafs this past season.
As contract talks between the Maple Leafs and Marner’s agent Darren Ferris continue, Marner is reportedly to be looking for a team in the neighborhood of $11.5 million per season. The Leafs are believed to prefer a deal in the $10 million range per season.
Increased chatter at least 1 team is very seriously considering presenting Mitch Marner with an offer sheet. Unclear on timing, IF it happens. Of course, Marner would have to sign, and if he does, Leafs will have a decision to make. Something to watch, as talks with TOR continue.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 4, 2019
Given their salary cap position, taking into account some roster juggling at the start of the season and placing Nathan Horton and his $5.3 million cap hit on LTIR at that point, the Leafs will have roughly $11.15 million in cap space to allocate without moving a player off the roster.
“We’re aware of the threat,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet’s “Tim and Sid” on Thursday as a response to the report of a possible offer sheet. “We’re aware of the different things that are happening with different teams. You kind of try to track where other teams are at to try to make sure that you’re in a good spot in case one comes, and then you have to make your decision based on whatever that may be if the offer sheet is in fact signed.
“If it happens, it happens. And I think we’re in a spot where we protected ourselves to make a very sound decision and not a defensive one. We’re totally focused on continuing to work with Darren and with their camp to try to get this done.”
If a team signs Marner to an offer sheet, the Maple Leafs will have seven days to match the offer or decide to take compensation.
It’s possible an offer sheet comes in at $12 million, per year, or higher, which would result in four first-round draft picks being sent back to Toronto if the Leafs don’t chose to match the offer.
However, if the Leafs match an offer sheet, any deal with an Average Annual Value worth $12 million or higher could force the Maple Leafs the move a player off their roster as the team would not have enough cap space this off-season to accommodate that salary unless Horton’s placed on LTIR, which can occur in the off-season – the Leafs currently have $3.765 million in cap space and can go over the cap by 10 percent ($8.15 million), which gives them $11.915 in space to play with prior to the start of the regular-season, providing no other moves are made.
Dubas reiterated that offer sheets are “perfectly permissible within the CBA,” and hinted they’d do everything they could to try and match a deal should Marner sign one.
It’s possible an offer sheet is presented to Marner as early as Friday.