We’ve said it before, it’s exhausting watching this saga unfold and the only benefit to the Marner saga going on is the easy content for the site and the chance to debate something hockey related when we should probably be outdoors instead.
That’s why we’re taking advantage of this new information out of Columbus:
Many teams have spoken w Marner’s agent about a possible offer sheet, and, yes, CBJ are among them. But I see no indication Marner wants to leave TML. Also, #CBJ convinced Leafs would/could match any offer sheet, perhaps by trading Nylander.
See where the summer goes. https://t.co/gcn092r1dm
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 12, 2019
So let’s start unpacking this.
- “Many teams have spoken with Marner’s agent” Well, the fact that we haven’t seen an offer sheet probably means that teams aren’t paying enough or Marner isn’t offering up the term they want to get one signed. It’s likely that Marner’s camp is trying to parlay this into a better offer from the Leafs, but an offer sheet always was going to carry a heavier price and I can’t imagine this having much influence on the Leafs. It’s somewhat satisfying that other teams are having as much trouble with Darren Ferris as the Leafs are.
- “yes, CBJ are among them” Well that seems like a given, considering this post, and the Blue Jackets definitely have the space, despite still needing to sign Zach Werenski. Considering the Blue Jackets don’t have their 2nd round pick for the next couple of seasons, this would strictly be a 4 1sts offer sheet which should interest the Leafs, but would mean the Blue Jackets would be going 5 years without a first round pick, and 3 of those years without a 2nd round pick either. That’s a high additional cost for their organization, and that’s where you can see where they’d want a lot of term out of Marner for that sacrifice.
- “I see no indication Marner wants to leave TML.” Well, it’s not his home, boyhood team, close to his family, close to his sponsors, as likely to be as competitive, or in a glamorous locale that makes you overlook the absence of those other things. It’s also hard to imagine Marner being a great fit with John Tortorella. That being said, we’ll see if this gets revisited later in the summer when the Blue Jackets still lack a Panarin replacement and the Leafs look like they are starting the season without Mitch.
- “CBJ convinced Leafs would/could match any offer sheet” The could part is a given, but the would part is interesting. Clearly whatever the Blue Jackets were offering up wasn’t too far about the $10.6M threshold for getting 4 1st round picks. It’s hard to imagine the Leafs not taking the picks if the ask is over $11M, but this is a lot more of a grey area, and while Portzline knows the Blue Jackets very well, I’m not sure the “Leafs would match” should be considered as a guarantee since we’ve heard contrary from Dubas, although while actively negotiating with Marner.
- “perhaps by trading Nylander” There is no doubt the Leafs would like to keep all of their talented players together, but that doesn’t change the fact that money could be tight and another tough decision could be made. I’m not saying trade Nylander, and frankly I’d prefer the Leafs move on from Marner ahead of Nylander, but if a team is willing to trade for the Nylander that put up 2 61 point seasons to enter the NHL instead of the Nylander we saw last season, you probably listen. Spending over $17M on two wingers is damned excessive.
That breaks down the main tweet. You can check out Aaron Portzline’s timeline for his important debunking of the Blue Jacket’s willingness to trade away Seth Jones, and his hinting at the Blue Jackets possibly being interested in William Nylander if Marner doesn’t happen, but it’s safe to say it ventures further into speculation after that.
Overall the situation is that the Blue Jackets are one of the teams that are interested in Marner, and it seems that there is a number of them. It also seems that Dubas is still patient at this point, as is Darren Ferris and no one is jumping to offer sheets or listening to trades. The flexibility the Leafs have is that they are learning the teams that are interested in Marner and if he wants to sign and offer sheet with them or not, the Leafs could trade his rights at a value somewhat similar to 4 1st round picks.
As for the Marner camp, it certainly benefits him to have teams pursing him within the Eastern Conference, and perhaps the most leverage would come from talking to teams within the Atlantic Division, which you’d have to assume at least one of them has inquired, despite the Senators being the only ones with the cap space. While it’s debatable how much offer sheet interest moves the bar on what the Leafs will offer, other teams being interested certainly doesn’t hurt his case.
The likely reality is that offer sheets, trade interest, and all of these interesting rumours are going to amount to nothing and Marner will eventually be a Leaf for an amount that is more than you are comfortable with, but not so much that you resent the player for getting his. We could exercise some patience and restraint on that, but if we did we’d probably be talking about where Justin Holl fits into the 2019-20 lineup instead and that just doesn’t seem to be as interesting.