NHL free agency rumors: Maple Leafs warn Mitch Marner, others about offer sheets

Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has set the record straight on leading scorer Mitch Marner’s free agency.

Dubas told reporters Thursday that If Marner signs an offer sheet with another team, the Maple Leafs may not match it and Marner should be prepared to walk.

And the same goes for Marner’s fellow forwards and restricted free agents Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.

“If there were an offer sheet, we would look at what they are, and what the compensation is for our team, and make a decision based off of that,” Dubas said (via the Toronto Star). “They’re all very important players for us. It’s our intention they’re here for as long as we can possibly keep them.

“But if the dollar amount doesn’t make sense as far as our internal economics, it will be a decision as to what we might do.”

NHL free agency begins July 1. If Marner, Kapanen and/or Johnsson sign an offer sheet with another team, the Maple Leafs will have seven days to match the offer. If they don’t match it, they get compensation from the other team. That compensation is on a sliding scale based on the player’s contract, but if Marner signs a deal with an average annual value of $10.568 million, Toronto would receive four first-round picks.  

Marner, 22, reportedly is seeking a deal similar to the five-year, $11.6 million AAV extension Toronto gave center Auston Matthews earlier this year. Cash-strapped Toronto reportedly is countering with a figure of up to $2 million less.

Hence the standoff.

Per the Star, it’s virtually unheard of for a restricted free agent to change teams via an offer sheet — only one player has done it in the past 20 years — but there are a number of RFAs around the league this summer who might exercise that option.

So could another team be prepared to make Marner an offer?

“What the other teams are thinking, I don’t know,” Dubas told the Star. “It’s within the rules. It gets bandied about. It’s kind of hanging over everything now. If it happens, it happens. We’ll go from there.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that. I hope we can continue to work together.”