The NHL offseason has barely even begun and already hockey fans have been subjected to daily reports on unsigned restricted free agent (RFA) Mitch Marner and his contractual squabble with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22 year old Marner is reportedly seeking a deal that pays him north of $11 million annually, which is a sticking point for Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas.
With the team and the player seemingly reaching a stalemate in negotiations, many fans and analysts are beginning to wonder about the threat of an RFA offersheet. The Montreal Canadiens consummated the first offersheet in over half a decade when they inked Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho on the opening day of free agency. The Hurricanes, of course, matched the offer, but could we see a team make a similar ploy for Marner’s services? It was reported earlier this month by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News that Marner had in fact already rejected two offersheets from rival teams.
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It’s a little difficult to figure what is accurate, what is informed conjecture and what is pure bunk when it comes to the Marner situation these days. But we do know that there are teams that have been/are serious about making an offer and there’s good reason to believe two of them already have, with Marner turning them down because he didn’t like the destinations.
At the time, fans were left to only only speculate who those two teams might have been, but thanks to a new report from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, we now know that one of those teams was the Columbus Blue Jackets.
On his latest 31 Thoughts Podcast with co-host Jeff Marek, Friedman reports that it was in fact the Blue Jackets who submitted an offer to Marner or, at the very least, negotiated the terms of a potential deal with Marner’s representation.
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Marner obviously never put pen to paper on a deal, but that doesn’t mean that Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has lost interest. Don’t be surprised if ultimately Marner ends up in Columbus, Ohio.