“In the last few days, the Leafs and Marner’s camp have had some dialogue here that’s gone under the radar,” Pierre LeBrun reports. Until there is a resolution, all the talk centers around offer sheets in today’s Leafs Links.

Pierre LeBrun on the Marner situation, Jake Gardiner’s market (TSN1050)
LeBrun provides his latest on the Mitch Marner saga on Overdrive.

On which teams might be calling on RFAs, including Marner:

Everyone is being really secretive about the teams who have phoned because it blows any chance if the team comes out. There is a lot at stake here. This is a huge risk for the team that is the predator to follow through and they don’t want anything to come out before they actually do it. They will pull it off the table if it comes out before, is what I am being told.

On the implications of Marner exploring a potential offer sheet:

… The immediate aftermath effect of that Weber offer sheet was David Poile had a seed planted in him that he was going to trade Shea Weber one day. It is a very emotional thing when you go the offer-sheet route.

I don’t blame the Marner camp for looking at every option here to get what they believe is fair. I think he’ll end up signing with the Leafs. Here is the unfortunate consequence even if he signs with the Leafs on Sunday or Monday: The last two weeks leading up to Monday are the two most important weeks of the season to reshape your roster. Outside of trading Marleau and trying on Subban, the Leafs have been paralyzed by the Marner situation. I’ve talked to other teams and agents about this who have had conversations with the Leafs and the Leafs are like, “We’ll get back to you. We’ve got to figure out Marner.”

That’s not to say they won’t do something in the next few days before Marner. But in general, it has limited their ability to do some of the things. Maybe Marner gets done on Sunday or Monday, but have they missed out on some of the things already that have transpired? You can say all you want about having all summer to fix your team, but a lot of the options evaporate in a hurry in this two-week period.

On Marner using the RFA window as leverage:

From Marner’s perspective, you can certainly see the validity in using this RFA speaking period as your leverage. It is hard to argue. And by the way, no other FA has signed. Kyle Connor is out there. Patrick Laine is out there. The guy I thought was going to sign right away still hasn’t signed, Brayden Point. Aho. Brock Boeser. None of these guys have signed. Matthew Tkachuk, by the way, I’m not sure how that first conversation went between Calgary and Tkachuk based on what I heard. We live in Toronto, so Marner is the [focus], but this is a story that is shared on many fronts with teams and these high-profile RFAs. It’s almost like everyone involved is like, “I don’t want to go first.”

On the Plan B option for the Leafs:

If he’s forced to trade him, then presumably… I am just going to throw this out as an example and not necessarily something the Leafs are doing, so don’t radio me. I’m on the record as saying he signs in Toronto and I think the last couple of days the Leafs and Marner have had some dialogue under the radar here. But if he doesn’t sign and he’s traded, does it not behoove the Leafs to at least phone Artemi Panarin’s camp to say, “Hey, is it too late for us to have a conversation?” It’s an example of how you need time if you’re the Leafs to pivot if things don’t go your way.

Should the Leafs draw a line here soon and say, “This has to be figured out by this day?” This can’t be “this goes to camp” all over again.

On the latest on Jake Gardiner and the Leafs’ attempts to improve their blue line:

He’s going to do well. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up the highest paid UFA D on Monday. It’ll be between him and Myers. There is a lot of interest for a puck-moving D.  They’ve been handling a lot of calls on him at CAA in Los Angeles. They’re keeping it tight. They don’t want teams out there, but I think some of it is obvious with teams who want D.

They haven’t closed the door on Toronto, but again, here is another great example of where they’ve said, “Until we know what is going on with Mitch Marner…”

I don’t think I can say this point enough, but this isn’t just about replacing Gardiner or Zaitsev or Hainsey. The Leafs went into this offseason with an absolute plan to revamp the majority of their blue line. Not just fill some holes. This was going to be a big summer for them to rejig their entire blue line other than the obvious suspects. They did dabble on PK Subban and got in on those talks, but so far, they haven’t been able to get anything done there.

Friedman discusses Bobrovsky/Panarin’s future, the RFAs (Sportsnet 650)
Elliotte Friedman spoke on the odds we see an offer sheet this July on Fan 650.

I think it’s possible we get one. I think it’s really interesting that all of a sudden, in the last couple of times, everybody started remembering that, “Oh wait a second — you don’t have to have four in a row. They can be four in five years.” I think it’s a whole lot of people trying to make other people uncomfortable.

Now, who is going to do it? Who is going to do an offer sheet? I am looking at the Islanders and I am wondering. Lamoriello has not signed Lee or Lehner. Is he trying Bobrovsky and Panarin? Is he leaving room for an offer sheet? Or does he just not like what he’s heard with those two guys and he’s waiting? That is kind of what everyone is wondering: What are they up to?

Who are the other teams that are going to offer sheet someone?

McKenzie on Marner negotiations, possible offer sheet and more (TSN1050)
Bob McKenzie discussed the likelihood of an RFA offer sheet this summer on First Up.

It is a unique situation because everybody has talked up offer sheets all year long. I have at times been one of those people who have talked it up. The offer sheet talk was not fabricated by myself and Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun in a room. The offer sheet talk occurred because over the course of this season, GMs and executives with clubs raised the possibility that maybe this is the year they’d look more seriously at the offer sheet — that it is silly to have all of these tools in your CBA workbag and never use them. Maybe because of the quantity of the RFAs this year and the quality of the RFA this year and the cap not going up very much, maybe the time has never been more right to pull the offer-sheet out of the toolkit. That is all that everybody has been saying.

I don’t know if it is just going to be talk or if something materializes. I tend to run on the skeptical side because until I actually see one of these offer sheets come down the pipes, I am going to be skeptical. But I am not saying there is not a chance in the world it is going to happen because I suspect there are some teams seriously considering it. We’ll see if they take the plunge or not.

Marner talk heating up? (Sportsnet 590)
Chris Johnston discussed the Mitch Marner offer sheet talk on 590, including the report from Darren Dreger that a team is considering a $13-14 million offer.

No chance. I’ll eat my shoe if that happens at $13 or $14 million. I don’t see someone making him the highest paid player in the league. It’s not an insight or a slight to Marner. It’s an overpay. The problem with the offer sheet system in general — and I think it’s something Mitch is going to run into in this RFA class — is that if you’re going to overpay a player by that degree and have to give up four first-round picks, when teams go through that equation and the impact it has on them at the moment and long term, it doesn’t make sense for them.

I still think there is an outside chance Mitch gets an offer sheet. His camp is open to at least exploring the possibility. If there is a fit out there and a team that wants to do it, I am guessing that comes in closer to $10.5-11 million. If it’s $11 million, I think there is a decision there for the Leafs about the impacts that would have on their cap and whether they want to try and take the four first-round picks. I can’t tell you what they would do in that situation, but it puts a more challenging situation in front of Toronto.

If somehow those kind of numbers [$13-14 million] are real, there isn’t a decision for Toronto, honestly. They can’t afford to pay him that much and he’s not worth that much. I’m guessing they’ll take the compensation in that case because it would require too many other holes to be blown in the lineup to make that happen.

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