One of the most important summers in recent memory for the Leafs is steadily approaching. Mitch Marner needs a new contract and rumours are already swirling as to what this offseason will look like.
Dreger says on TSN1050 that he expects Marner's camp to take negotiations beyond July 1st.
He says he expects the Marner to visit teams starting June 26 in the RFA offersheet interview period.
Dreger says the Leafs will have to make an aggressive offer: 10+,10.5+,11+
— James (@Account4hockey) May 28, 2019
Appearing on TSN1050 on Tuesday afternoon, Darren Dreger said that he expects the contract negotiations for one of the Leafs’ star players will go beyond July 1st. Even to go as far as that the player will be meeting with other interested teams around the league and discussing a potential offer sheet.
Because of this, if the Leafs want to sign Marner before the interviews start, they will have to make an enticing offer of a salary above $10-million. Potentially ruining their cap structure to sign the forward before he’s able to talk to other teams.
Dreger also added later that he would personally be surprised if Marner signed anything over five years — meaning that he wants to reach free agency as soon as possible and maximize his earning potential.
Whether this is the truth or some of Marner’s camp negotiating through the media, there is a strong sense that the forward will not sign on anything resembling a team-friendly contract. No matter what, Marner will be getting every penny he’s worth most likely, from the Leafs or from another team.
In the most unenviable position in the whole league, GM Kyle Dubas has a couple choices on his plate. Either pay that extra one or two million on the team’s cap and risk losing a depth player like Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen for less than hoped for, or just play hardball.
The hard negotiation tactic — playing chicken with Marner’s camp — might not necessarily work, but it would certainly free up a variety of possibilities for the Leafs next season. Whether it’s an offer sheet or a trade elsewhere, the Leafs would regain the assets and most likely flip them in trades for necessary pieces in the lineup.
But letting a player like Marner leave for at-worst a couple more million on your cap seems unnecessary, but that’s the evil of the current hard cap system. They won’t have room for that extra million and restricting them in possible offseason transactions might hurt the team more than what Marner would bring.
The most surprising aspect of this radio hit is that Marner and his camp are willing to go interview with possible teams submitting offer sheets. It was somewhat assumed, but now it’s out in the open and signifies that they are willing to do whatever it takes to earn his best contract offer.
All we know for sure now is that this will be a very long summer full of contract negotiation talks from both sides.
To listen to the full Darren Dreger radio hit, click here (Marner talk begins at 5:50).