If the Toronto Maple Leafs weren't having a hard enough time getting William Nylander to sign his extension, NHL insider Darren Dreger added pressure to the situation when said the Leafs might need to be cautious of one of their young stars being the target for an offer sheet.
Dreger was on TSN 1050 on Tuesday and was asked about the possibility Nylander might sign an offer sheet. While most restricted free agents deals get done with their respective teams, Nylander is a special offensive talent that could be attractive to an opposing team with some salary cap space.
Dreger suggested the idea of another team offering Nylander an offer sheet is possible, but not likely because that means a team would have to value him at close to $7 million. The Leafs firmly believe he's a $6 million player and maybe a little more, but anything close to $7 million would be an overpayment. Fortunately, Dreger believes other teams see Nylander at the same value Toronto does which makes an offer sheet less likely.
Radio host Gord Miller then changed the direction of the conversation and asked about the chances of an offer sheet with players like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. While Dreger didn't think Matthews' contract negotiations would ever get to that point, he does believe Marner might be someone the Leafs have to worry about.
“I think Mitch Marner is a little different, though," he said. Saying Marner would like to sign long-term, the business of hockey contracts is, at the end of the day, a business and if Marner has a strong season paired with John Tavares, he could get expensive.
An opposing team might take advantage of the Leafs tight cap situation and if Marner lights it up, he's less of a risk for the offering team on a big-money deal. A big offer (anything more than $9 million per season) would make things uncomfortable for GM Kyle Dubas. “Marner isn’t out of the question, in terms of an offer sheet target at that point,” Dreger said.
The Leafs knew money would be tight when they signed John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million deal but if offer sheets start to play into the equation, it could be next to impossible for Toronto to keep everyone.