Mitch Marner is back at the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp after signing a six-year deal worth more than $65MM last week. The young forward was one of the biggest stories of the offseason as his representatives and the team went back and forth on term and salary, threatening to miss time like his teammate William Nylander last year. This morning, Marner’s agent Darren Ferris told Sportsnet radio that two offer sheets were presented to his client during the offseason but that they never considered accepting them, instead wanting to get a deal done with the Maple Leafs. Marner himself confirmed it, explaining his decision to Kristen Shilton of TSN:
As soon as Darren mentioned [offer sheets], I told him right away I don’t want to explore that option. But I didn’t want to miss training camp…or any games this season, so that’s why I really forced the issue with Kyle [Dubas] to get something done and get me here.
While Marner may have immediately turned down the offer sheets, it does raise some questions about which teams tried them and how much they were willing to pay. Former NHL forward Matthew Barnaby believes they were from the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, though Marner and Ferris obviously wouldn’t confirm. If they had been equivalent to the deal that Marner eventually got from the Maple Leafs, the teams would have had to give up the maximum RFA compensation of four first-round picks. That’s a tough price for any team to pay, and one that would have forced the Maple Leafs to at least consider the option.
Now though, Toronto can focus on their upcoming preseason schedule with the whole group signed and in training camp. Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares now make up three of the seven highest-paid forwards in the league and will need to prove they can have more than just regular season success. With players like Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie coming off the books or demanding raises next summer as unrestricted free agents, this season may be one of the team’s only shots with the current group.