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Marner not certain to have potential offer sheet matched by Maple Leafs

Toronto wants to keep pending free agent, will 'do what's right for our organization,' GM says

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

VANCOUVER -- Mitchell Marner can become a restricted free agent July 1, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are not certain to match an offer sheet given to him or any other player, general manager Kyle Dubas said Thursday.

Asked about the potential for an offer sheet being given to Marner, Dubas said his intention is to keep the forward but that it would be contingent on the details and other pending free agents.

"We're at the point now -- we can speak openly about it -- it would really depend on any of the players," Dubas said. "It's not just one guy. We've got a number of them."

He mentioned forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, who each is a pending restricted free agent like Marner.

"If there were an offer sheet, we'd look at what they are and what the compensation is for our team and make the decision based off that," Dubas said. "They're all very important players for us, so it's our intention they're here for as long as we can possibly keep them, but if the dollar amount doesn't make sense in terms of our internal economics in the marketplace and the compensation and such, it's going to be a decision on our end as to what we do. I wouldn't know one (way) or another without knowing where those are going to land, if they happen."

Compensation to the team losing a player to an offer sheet escalates from no compensation for a contract worth $1.4 million or less per season, to four first-round draft picks for a contract worth more than $10.5 million per season.

Marner, selected by the Maple Leafs with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, led them with 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games this season. Kapanen had 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 78 games, and Johnsson had 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 73 games. 

Dubas said he expects to meet with Marner's agent, Darren Ferris, in the next few days. Both are here for the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday and Saturday.

"I suspect in the coming week they'll be some movement, and that's what we're hopeful for," Dubas said. "I don't sense there's any pressure. We'll continue to do what's right for our organization and roll from there."

Dubas defended Marner after being told the forward has been called greedy on social media amid reports that he is looking for a long-term contract at about $11 million per season.

"For me, Mitch Marner's reputation is beyond reproach," Dubas said. "He comes to the rink every day with the exact same attitude. Great energy. Loves hockey, loves playing in Toronto, he's a great member of the community.

"I get that these matters become complex because of the number of dollars that are in play. People hear them, whether they're factual or not, and they begin to draw certain conclusions about players and what their motives are."

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm1: Marner pots second goal on penalty shot

The last offer sheet to be given to an NHL player was to Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly, by the Calgary Flames, on Feb. 28, 2013. Colorado matched it and kept O'Reilly.

The last offer sheet to lead to a player changing teams was one given to Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers on July 26, 2007. Anaheim received three picks in the 2008 NHL Draft as compensation.

There have been eight offer sheets given since 1998.

Dubas also said forwards Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri could be back with the Maple Leafs next season. 

Marleau's Toronto home is up for sale, and his family has moved back to California. He has informed management he'd prefer to be sent to the West Coast if traded, but Dubas did not say whether the forward has asked for a trade. 

Marleau played his first 19 NHL seasons for the San Jose Sharks before signing a three-year contract with the Maple Leafs on July 2, 2017. He has one season remaining on it at $6.25 million.

"They've been very open since the end of the season," Dubas said. "I certainly understand their position and their situation. He's done a lot of great work since the day he arrived here. We're trying to accommodate and help that, mostly out of appreciation for everything that he's done for us since his arrival.

"What we're just trying to do is accommodate a situation that's gone very public since the end of the year. All that said, I think that if Patrick Marleau were back with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the beginning of next year, it wouldn't be a problem for Patrick.

"There's a strong chance he'll be back next season."

Marleau had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 82 games this season.

Kadri has been the subject of trade speculation after being suspended in each of the past two Eastern Conference First Round series against the Boston Bruins -- for three games last season, and five games this season -- with Toronto losing each in seven games. He had 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 73 games this season.

The center has three seasons remaining on a six-year contract he signed April 13, 2016.

"[Kadri] is an important player for us," Dubas said. "At the same time, it's foolish to say somebody is 100 percent not going to be moved because different things change and we're looking to make our team better.

"Having said that, it's our full intention that [Kadri] is going to be on the team."

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