We're ten days into Free Agency and the biggest fish in the RFA pool has yet to put his signature on a piece of paper... So what's going on?
One thing we know for sure and that is that whatever Marner finally puts his name to it will have at least a 12 on it. The Maple Leafs have a little over $11 Million in cap space to work with. If that was good enough for Marner then he would have signed already.
So he's looking for $12 Mil... Plenty of teams out there who have that to throw around... He hasn't signed an offer sheet but that doesn't mean he hasn't received one.
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News seems to think he's received at least two already but hasn't signed because he didn't like the destinations. I'm not entirely buying that... Others are speculating that he doesn't want anything long term and he only wants a 5 year deal or a 1 year deal at $14 Million. But what would that accomplish? I think he wants what he can't have. The respect of The Toronto Maple Leafs that he deserves but can't have because he's third in line behind #91 and #34.
Do I think he's received offer sheets? Yes. But I don't think the reason he hasn't signed them is because he doesn't like the destinations. I think the reason that he hasn't signed them is that he prefers to play in Toronto, but he's not happy he's third fiddle. And the truth is, they could have gotten him signed last July 1st but decided to lock up William Nylander first so one can make the argument that he's fourth fiddle!
This doesn't sit well with Mitch or his camp. That's why he hasn't signed. He can't get what he wants. That's hard to accept. That's why there's no signature.
So we're back to take less to play where you want or be the man somewhere else.
At this point in the blog, Islanders fans are drooling. This is there time to step up with Lou Lamoriello and get some revenge right? Not so fast. If you want to give out a $12 or $13 Million dollar contract you've got to make some moves. Boychuck, Ladd, or Leddy have to go. Leddy is probably the only one that will be easy to trade. And then you have to sign Barzal to an extension which is going to be expensive and Ryan Pulock is right behind him needing an extension so you can say goodbye to all three of the aforementioned players plus let Thomas Greiss just walk... None of this is impossible Islanders fans, its just a lot. Maybe thats why Lou hasn't put an offer sheet in front of Mitch. In an effort not to totally dash all your hopes he is really close with Matt Martin...
Montreal would be a good fit and we've already seen that Marc Bergevin isn't afraid to use the offer sheet so why hasn't he signed there? Well like the Islanders they have some work to do as well. Maybe less though as moving Karl Alzner would be the quickest way to free up $12+ Million. But finding takers for him would be difficult and you'd definitely have to throw in a sweetener for someone to take his contract. Which they can as they have some extra 2nd and 3rd round picks coming up over the next few years but thats all they'll be able to offer as their 1st's would be heading to Toronto.
So who's left? Other teams with the available space include:
St Louis has space but they have to get #50 signed so they're out!
The Flyers are interesting and possible, but they have to get Konecny and Provorov signed this year followed by Nolan Patrick next year and Carter Hart the year after that... So their $14 Million may dry up over the next few years...
Columbus has the space and nothing stopping them.
The Devils have the space now, but with the $9 Million dollar addition of P.K. Subban and having to get Taylor Hall signed next year, the space they have now is a mirage.
Ottawa has the space... Do we even need to go on though..?
Winnipeg has the space but plenty to keep them occupied with their RFA's...
Same goes for Colorado! Burakovsky and Rantanen need deals this year and they have a lot of raises to hand out next year.
So. With limited options for that offer sheet and an inability to accept a position behind Tavares, Matthews, and Nylander we have nothing in front of us but a long... long... waiting game.
And Mitch doesn't seem to be in a hurry here. But one thing is certain. The Leafs have to wait for him to sign. The longer this drags out the worst it is for Toronto. Because if they were to cave now and give him more then the $11 million they have, they can still make some moves. Those moves become limited the closer you get to training camp as other teams will be solidifying their rosters.
So after 10 days and a log blog post it may be bad to say we don't know. But the truth is, a lot has happened in these 10 days. And we had to go through all of it just to figure out where everyone stands at this point, just so we can say that...
We don't know... But we think Mitch doesn't even know yet... Stay tuned!
If the Islanders or Canadians make a trade, we'll know Marner's about to sign with either of them. Until that happens its a game of who blinks first between Marner and Dubas. And lets not forget what happened last time Dubas went the distance with a player...
If the Islanders or Canadieans or Blue Jackets for that matter really want to throw around an offer sheet they may have an easier time going after someone else. Patrick Laine might be easier to lure away...
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