The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to have a big problem on their hands, and it may only be getting worse. Elliotte Friedman reported that restricted free agent, Mitch Marner, turned down an 8-year deal worth $11M a season.
Marner is coming off a season in which he scored 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists), and he did that at 22 years old.
"The Leafs have told Mitch Marner that if he wants the big number, like $11M, they want him to go to eight years, and I think at this time, Mitch Marner isn't prepared to do that"
11×8 would make him the highest paid winger in history. If that's a non-starter, this is a problem. https://t.co/8vvMFAiEdS
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) June 20, 2019
It sounds like Marner is seeking something more of a short-term deal, maybe in the 4-6 year range. That would allow him to get a nice contract now, but also test the market down the road as an unrestricted free agent. Because of this, many are bringing up the idea of teams submitting an offer sheet.
Kypreos on 590:
Karlsson and Skinner deal means Marner will only take 11M+. No progress is being made. Marner's camp feels an offersheet will be there. Leafs are going to up their offer before/at the draft one last time and then call their bluff on the offersheet.
— James (@Account4hockey) June 18, 2019
McGuire on TSN1050 this morning: “One GM told me, there will be offer sheets this year. I don’t know if he’s bluffing or not and he didn’t mention names, but I firmly believe there will be offer sheets and I believe Mitch Marner is one of the people that gets an offer sheet.”
— NHL Prospects Watcher (@Prospects_Watch) June 20, 2019
The previous four offer sheets before that were all matched as well. Those included Shea Weber, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Steve Bernier, and David Backes.
The last time an offer sheet was not matched was in July of 2007 for Dustin Penner, a deal for 5 years, $21.5M. The Edmonton Oilers got him from the Anaheim Ducks, and gave up their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick ins 2008. (Those 3 picks turned out to be Tyler Myers (the pick was traded to Buffalo), Jake Gardiner, and Jordan Eberle).
So, if Buffalo were interested in submitting an offer sheet, here’s what it could take:
Before going any further, this is the amount they’d have to give up:
Any salary to $1,395,053: No compensation owed
$1,395,054 to $2,113,716: one 3rd-round-pick owed
$2,113,717 to $4,227,437: one 2nd-round-pick
$4,227,438 to $6,341,152: one 1st-round pick and one 3rd-round-pick
$6,341,153 to $8,454,871: one 1st-round, one 2nd-round, one 3rd-round-pick
$8,454,872 to $10,568,589: two 1st-round, one 2nd-round, one 3rd-round pick
$10,568,590 and up: four 1st-round-picks owed
It’s very likely it would be one of those highest two options on the bottom.
The rule states the following:
“The team utilizing the offer-sheet must have the CBA-required draft pick assets in hand before signing the player to the offer sheet. Specifically, the CBA requires that the compensatory Draft picks must be those originally belonging to the offering team.”
The Sabres do not have their 3rd round pick in 2020. It was traded away as part of the Jeff Skinner deal. Buffalo would have to get that same pick back in order to offer him between $6,341,153 and $10,568,589.
However, if the Sabres were to offer Marner more than that and be willing to give up four first-round picks, they would be able to do that, because they have all four.
An NHL exec, talking to us about the risk of offer sheets for Mitch Marner and the like: "It's the nuclear bomb you can drop on another team. But do you want someone to come back and drop the nuclear bomb on you?"
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) June 20, 2019
Would Jason Botterill and the Sabres be willing to not only do that to a division rival, but give up four 1st-round picks in the process?
Since the #Sabres selected Sam Reinhart in 2014, only 3 of the following 36 draft picks have played in over 30 NHL games to this point. 29 of the 36 have yet to make their NHL debut.
— ? Kevin ⚾️ (@kmf418) June 20, 2019
The other part of all this is that the Maple Leafs could shop Marner to avoid any offer sheets. They’d have to find a suitor and get a nice return out of it, of course. It’s a situation to keep an eye on, but if Buffalo wants to make it happen, they’re going to pay a lot and give up a large amount of high-end picks.