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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

If networks are going to run the “offer sheet the Leafs” angle all year, they should at least be smart about it

Gord Miller is a solid play-by-play voice for TSN, but over the last number of years it’s become more and more evident that’s about where his ability to analyze what’s going on in the NHL ends. Put simply, typically when Miller ventures out of his lane and into the world of statistics, or player movement and cap implications, we get a bunch of useless stuff that’s more suited toward Elias Sports or whatnot.

Oh, did I mention he also loves to stir the pot in Toronto?

If you haven’t noticed, the sports networks covering the NHL have turned their eye toward offer sheets more than any time in the past, and they’re going to keep beating that drum until next season. You may have guessed why; The Leafs have two marquee RFAs coming up in Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The “center of the hockey universe” stuff comes back to haunt Toronto supporters when things are going too well, you see.

But for all this talk about Matthews and Marner potentially fielding offers from other teams and maxing out their potential earnings, what makes everything different this time around from a team perspective? We’ve seen the league has almost completely locked down offer sheets for the past 15 years through teams being afraid of risk or colluding with each other not to hurt another general manager’s feelings, so why would the reins be taken off this time?

No reason. They just are, apparently. The most boring league on earth in terms of roster movement is ready to ignite in offer sheets. Get ready.

Sure.

Even if this were true, going after someone like Auston Matthews or Mitch Marner as a restricted free agent is not something just any team can pull off. We’re talking about a contract, at least in the case of Matthews, that could get close to $100-million in total value.

Thankfully, Miller has a follow-up that takes care of everything. Kyle Dubas take note, you’re about to be poisoned.

I’m saying this with near one-hundred percent certainty: Gord Miller doesn’t realize the player has to actually sign the offer sheet. He believes if the Coyotes, for instance, send a sheet to Matthews with the above parameters, the Leafs have to then make a decision to match or take the compensatory picks. We know that isn’t how it works, but I’m convinced a huge portion of media folks don’t. The player has to sign it.

Even with that pretty important requirement aside, and assuming a team could somehow pull this off, this proposal on its own suggests the following:

  • That Auston Matthews would leave about 30-million dollars in guaranteed money on the table to sign this deal instead of what will likely be a 96-million dollar contract for the Leafs over eight years.
  • That Matthews wants to leave Toronto as soon as possible, for some reason.
  • That the other team in this hypothetical would be fine unloading four first round picks, all to have Matthews leave their team as a free agent in just four years. This “taking him to UFA at 25” idea works both ways.

A more realistic scenario would be a lot simpler: Another team just offers a lot of money on a 7-year term and the Leafs are like “Darn. I wish we could have gotten him for 12-million instead of 13” when they match it. That’s still extremely unlikely to happen, but at least we don’t have to go all galaxy brain to fit this stupid narrative.

“Our salary cap situation is set up that we could defend any of those threats with no worry at all, I spend zero per cent of my time having any worry about that” Kyle Dubas said last month when asked about this whole situation. And you know what? Perhaps not everyone is that confident, and that’s totally fine. But recognize when someone “reporting” on the threats of an offer sheet is out of their depth.

Look, we’re going to be subject to stories and opinions like the ones above for the entirety of this season, and this sort of talk is going to ramped up even more should Matthews and Marner get to the summer without contracts. And I mean, anything can happen, the rules are in place for someone to target these players if they want to be bold. No one’s disputing that. But let’s at least try to be somewhat smart about this and maybe do a little homework ahead of time.

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