Mitch Marner’s Contract
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the youngest, most skilled teams in the NHL, but along with all that talent comes big contracts. After signing free agent John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract last summer, then followed up by signing young star Auston Matthews to a five-year, $58 million dollar contract in February, the Leafs are starting to feel the pressure of the salary cap. Toronto has three young players to re-sign this summer including Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Mitch Marner. While Kapanen and Johnsson are talented, they could both be signed to reasonable extensions, Mitch Marner is going to be much harder to secure.
Marner is without question at the same level as Matthews and Tavares, In fact, he actually put up more points than Tavares or Matthews this season (94 compared to 88 and 73 respectively). While he isn’t the goal scorer that his counterparts are, he is by far the best playmaker.
The Leafs organization is going to do all they can to avoid paying another player $11 million dollars per season, and they are going to use other contracts from around the league to give them leverage to pay Marner less.
Some comparable players to Marner across the league are Leon Draisaitl, Mark Stone, and Nikita Kucherov, who are making $8.5 million, $9.5 million, and $9.5 million respectively. There are some factors there, as Kucherov and Stone play in tax-free states, while Draisaitl signed his contract before he had his breakout season.
Marner was born just outside of Toronto and has stated multiple times he wants to stay with his hometown team, but his management isn’t going to settle for a lesser contract because he is a hometown kid. This will certainly be one of the more interesting stories to follow as the off-season progresses and, if a deal doesn’t get done, could lead to one of the biggest trades in NHL history.
Julia Kender of National Puck dove a little deeper in her debut article last week!
History of Offer Sheets
In today’s NHL landscape, offer sheets are all but nonexistent. However, this could be the summer where things change. With multiple young stars contracts expiring, their restricted free-agent status is building a prime opportunity to see offer sheets return. Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, and Patrik Laine are three of the best players in the game today and none currently have a contract heading into this summer.
The 2019 offer sheet compensation goes as follows:
$0 – $139,053 – no compensation
$1,395,054 – $2,113,716 – 3rd round pick
$2,113,717 – $4,227,437 – 2nd round pick
$4,227,438 – $6,341,152 – 1st and 3rd round pick
$6,341,153 – $8,454,871 – 1st, 2nd, 3rd round picks
$8,454,872 – $10,568,589 – two 1st round picks, one 2nd round pick, one 3rd round pick
$10,568,590 and over – four 1st round picks
Now, all three names listed above will almost certainly end up in the upper echelon of those numbers, so teams giving up multiple first round picks is unlikely in today’s game.
Offer sheets have very rarely worked in the past, as only 13 of the 35 offer sheets in history have been accepted, and only one of eight since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005. The first team to try an offer sheet post-salary cap was, of course, the Philadelphia Flyers. They sent a one-year, $1.9 million offer to Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, which the Canucks matched two days later. Dustin Penner signing with the Edmonton Oilers in 2007 is the most recent successful signing, and the first since Chris Gratton in 1997.
The first offer sheet was signed in 1986 by Gary Nyland as the Maple Leafs signed him away from the Chicago Blackhawks. The first offer sheet that was matched happened two years later when the Oilers matched the Rangers offer for forward Geoff Courtnall.
On July 6, 1990, Washington Capitals defenseman Scott Stevens signed an (at the time) massive four-year $5.1 million offer sheet that would send him to the St. Louis Blues. The Blues chose to not match the offer, and instead received five first round draft picks as compensation. For fun, those picks turned into Trevor Halverson, Sergei Gonchar, Brendan Witt, Eric Fichaud, and Miika Elomo.
The following summer, Stevens was involved in the compensation of an offer sheet when the Blues sent one to Brenden Shanahan, who was a Devil at the time. The Blues originally offered Rod Brind’Amour and Curtis Joseph as compensation, but the Devils refused and wanted Scott Stevens instead. An arbitration later determined Stevens was fair compensation.
In July of 1994, Stevens was once again offer sheeted, the only player in history to receive two in his career, by the St. Louis Blues. The Devils matched their four-year $17 million offer and the Blues were later forced to compensate the Devils with a first round pick and cash for tampering with the process.
Other notable players to receive and offer sheet in their careers were Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Joe Sakic, and Sergei Fedorov, all of which had their original team match the deal.
The largest offer sheet in history was signed by Shea Weber in 2012 as the Flyers sent him a 14-year, $110 million contract, seven years and $60 million dollars more than the second largest contract offered to Tomas Vanek by the Oilers five years earlier. The Predators ended up matching the deal to everyone’s surprise.
The most recent offer sheet attempt happened in 2013 as the Calgary Flames signed Ryan O’Reilly to a two-year $10 million contract. O’Reilly was holding out after the lockout ended, staying in Russia as the NHL resumed play. The Avalanche matched the offer and O’Reilly finished out that contract in Colorado before another contract dispute lead to the Avalanche trading him to the Sabres in the summer of 2015.
Teams often avoided offer sheets prior to the 2004-05 lockout, as there was no salary cap and offers were often matched. There was a six year gap between the lockout and the previous offer sheet attempt when the Carolina Hurricanes attempted to sign Red Wings forward Sergei Fedorov in 1998. General Managers often avoided offer sheets as to not cause animosity amongst each other.
The implementation of the salary cap in 2005 made GMs much more cautious with spending. This, in theory, made offer sheets more common, as teams could steal away a top player with the assumption other teams couldn’t or won’t match to save money. However, most teams lock young players into long-term contracts that take them into unrestricted free agent status to avoid the use of an offer sheet.
Chances are you don’t see an offer sheet this summer. Teams value draft picks much higher in 2019 than they did even a few years ago, let alone a decade ago. Not only that, but most teams can’t squeeze a $10 million contract on their team. Though if there was ever a time when offer sheets would make a shocking return, it would be this summer as some of the best players in the game today are available and their current teams are already close to the salary cap ceiling. Time will tell, but even though the odds are slim, it shouldn’t be too shocking to see an offer sheet in the near future.
Voracek for Subban Trade
It is very unusual for me to do discuss trade rumors as most aren’t based on reality, or are started by a credible source. However, the rumor of a Jake Voracek for PK Subban did something most trade proposals don’t, unite Flyers twitter.
Most fans have a love/hate relationship with Jake Voracek, who can play at an elite level when he is driven, but other times he is a hinderance to the team with careless turnovers and sub-par play. The biggest issue with Voracek is moving him would be difficult for many reasons. Even at his worst, he is still reliable for 65 points per season, which is not something that is easy to replace. Not only that, but he is due $8.25 million for another five years, a commitment most teams around the league would have trouble committing to.
Enter PK Suban. The Nashville Predators are tight against the salary cap as they continue to hunt for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Subban, who is making $9 million a year for another three seasons, was acquired by the Predators in the summer of 2016 in exchange for high-paid defenseman Shea Weber.
With another season lost for Nashville, the whispers of change are starting and the crosshairs are on PK Subban and his hefty contract. Captain Roman Josi is due for a new contract next summer, and given he is one of the top defenseman in the league, he will be looking for a substantial upgrade over his current $4 million salary.
So, back to the trade. Nashville was ranked 19th in goals for/per game during the 2018-19 season, as well as 19th for goals for on the season with 236. For a team with Cup aspirations, that is on the low side. Voracek registered 20 goals and 46 assists during the season, and accounting for Subban’s 31 points, thats an added 35 points collectively for the Predators.
As for the Flyers, the need for a genuine top defenseman is becoming more and more evident after a season where Ivan Provorov had trouble carrying the load of a top guy. Subban’s contract is relatively similar to Voracek’s as the dollar amount is similar, but the key difference is the term. Subban has two less years on his current contract, which is ideal for the Flyers. It gives them a legit top guy in the short term to allow Sanheim and Myers to continue develop without thrusting them into a spot they’re not quite ready for, and it also gives the Flyers another player to eat a lot of minutes to take some of the pressure off of Ivan Provorov.
The loss of Voracek might hurt, but given there are a few stars available on the free agent market this summer, it shouldn’t be too hard to replace Voracek’s offensive totals. While there is a top defenseman available this summer in Erik Karlsson, chances are he’ll demand more than $9 million dollars and far longer than three years, and while Karlsson would be nice, adding Subban would be the better decision in the long term.
One of Ron Hextall’s first moves as a general manager when he was hired was trading Scott Hartnell to Columbus for RJ Umberger for the purpose of Umberger’s contract ending sooner. Now, both men ended up being bought out of their contracts anyway, and Umberger’s return to Philadelphia was a disaster to say the least, but the idea of the trade could be applied here. No matter what Subban would bring to the table, his contract would be off the books two years earlier than Voracek, and given all the young talent the Flyers possess, they are going to need every dollar possible to sign them in the coming years.
Chuck Fletcher has his plate full this summer and fixing both the forward and defense corps is a crucial part to ensure the Flyers are a serious threat next season. Who knows what happens, but one thing is for sure, PK Subban would look great in orange and black.
by: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)