UPDATE - The Leafs have dealt the rights to unsigned prospect Dakota Joshua to the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.
Joshua, 23, Joshua was selected 128th overall by Toronto in the 2014 NHL Draft and played four seasons for Ohio State University, but did not get signed by the Leafs after his senior season.
The expectation is that the negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and leading scorer Mitch Marner will be long and protracted and could last through the summer and into training camp, but the threat of an offer sheet for his services appears to be tied to the 22-year-old getting a short-term deal that gets him closer to free agency.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated on
the “31 Thoughts” podcast that while the New York Islanders were rumored to be willing to go the offer sheet route, the Columbus Blue Jackets may have been the club considering that move.
The Blue Jackets went all-in prior to the trade deadline last season, trading most of their 2019 draft picks in deals to acquire Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Keith Kinkaid and Adam McQuaid, but lost to Boston in the second round after shockingly sweeping Tampa Bay in the opening round. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen lost forward Artemi Panarin, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, Duchene, Dzingel and Kinkaid in free agency and only added forward Gustav Nyquist, leaving Kekalainen with close to $16 Million in available cap space.
The possible hiccup was that the Blue Jackets wanted to sign the 22-year-old winger to a maximum seven-year contract if they were going to risk giving up four first-round picks as compensation, but that Marner’s camp was looking for a deal with a shorter term, which would allow the Leafs leading scorer to get another big payday in his mid-20”s.
It is hard to imagine that any club would sign Marner to an offer sheet for a three-or-four year deal, as they would want to get as long a contract as possible to justify the potential loss of four first-round picks.
Friedman indicated that the Leafs have discussed a bridge deal of two-or-three years and a long term deal of six years or more with the winger, but they are not interested in walking Marner to the doorstep of free agency on a four-year deal or a five-year term that would have him become a UFA the same summer as Auston Matthews and William Nylander.
Former Leaf Nazem Kadri indicated on the same podcast that his rejecting a trade to the Calgary Flames earlier this month was more to improve his chances of staying with Toronto.
“(The Leafs) had a deal in place and they wanted me to move my no-trade clause,” Kadri said. “I just figured that had I declined, I would have had a better opportunity of being a Maple Leaf next year and that’s really what it came down to. I wanted to play for the Leafs next year. I wanted to be a part of that. In declining that trade I had aspirations of being a Leaf and we know clearly that didn’t happen.”
Kadri was dealt on July 1 to Colorado along with Calle Rosen for defenseman Tyson Barrie and center Alex Kerfoot.
“I’m just happy to be moving to a great city with a great team, a great group of guys. I’ve talked to everybody in the (Colorado) organization and they’re ecstatic to have me so it’s nice to be wanted.” Kadri said. “For me, it’s about going in to next season with a chip on my shoulder. I know what I’m capable of and I want to just prove a point more than anything. So I’ll be looking to have a big year next year.”
*******If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising your business in the Greater Toronto / Southern Ontario area on this column, please send a message for more information by clicking on the “Contact” button at the top of the page.*******