Restricted free agents and offer sheets have been one of the big focal points of the upcoming offseason, with Mitch Marner and the Leafs being at the forefront of this topic.
With Marner’s high asking price in his contract negotiations, and the Leafs oncoming cap crunch, the back and forth between the two parties has been well noted, and the threat of an offer sheet is looming, whether it be to Marner himself, or to one of the other RFAs on the Leafs in Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.
However, the Leafs won’t automatically match any offer sheets that come their way, according to Chris Johnston.
Kyle Dubas says it's not a foregone conclusion the #leafs would match a Mitch Marner offer sheet. Indicates they's have to weigh the return — just as they would with fellow RFA's Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 21, 2019
Considering how this negotiation has been using the media as a primary resource for bargaining, this coming from Dubas makes perfect sense.
On one hand, he might not even mean it, but could be saying it in order to call the Marner camp on their bluff, and hope on the off chance it might scare them away from signing an offer sheet if Marner really just wants to play for the Leafs.
But, the more likely scenario is that Dubas is a critically thinking guy, and like most decisions he makes, he will take his time to mull it over and make sure that whatever he does will benefit the team now, and in the long run. As great of a player Marner is, he might not be worth whatever cap hit he’s asking for, for as long (or short) that he wants it, and sometimes it’s not a bad idea to explore your options, especially with the potential that it could be 4 first round picks coming back.
In the case of Kappy and Johnsson, it also makes sense as they are more complimentary pieces to the core, and it’s a good idea for Dubas to not get too attached to keeping them around, otherwise we end up in some scenarios like Pittsburgh and Chicago have seen in the cap era.