The Toronto Maple Leafs got the message loud and clear on Monday when their rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, signed Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet. They know it increased the chance of their star RFA Mitch Marner receiving one, so much so that GM Kyle Dubas has confided to Mike Zeisberger and Dan Rosen of NHL.com that he is ready for one.
"You have to be (ready) … leave yourself protected and well-situated to whatever may come your way," Dubas said. "Or at least give yourself the ability to make a well-rounded decision and not a defensive one."
The Canadiens pulled a shocking move on Monday, signing the Carolina Hurricanes restricted free-agent forward to a five-year, $42.27-million offer sheet. It was the first time since 2013 that an offer sheet had been signed.
Marner is now the most coveted restricted free agent left without a contract and could be the next target for an offer sheet. However, Dubas keeps focused on getting closer to an agreement with the star forward.
The 22-year-old reportedly is seeking at least $11 million per season. An offer sheet worth more than $10,568,589 per season would return compensation of four first-round draft picks.
"We continue to talk with [agent Darren Ferris] and will continue to do so," Dubas said. "Again, the quality of the person first and the player second, it's important to us we find a way to get this done."
The Maple Leafs were quite active over the weekend, signing RFAs Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, and trading Nazem Kadri for Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche in a blockbuster deal on Monday. They still need to be careful about the cap ceiling, but everyone is keeping an eye on what will happen with Marner…
One thing we know is that Dubas is ready for an offer sheet. Would it match it like the Hurricanes did with Aho?… it remains to be seen.