Another night without hockey. We better get used to this. Fortunately, there remains plenty to talk about.
The Mitch Marner contract negotiations jumped to the forefront on Tuesday when Darren Drager was on TSN1050 and said he expects Marner’s camp to take the negotiations beyond July 1st. He also expects Marner to visit teams starting June 26 in the RFA offer sheet interview period. Dreger posits that the Leafs will need to be very aggressive with their offer – starting with a double-digit cap hit (10-11+ million per) if they want to avoid other teams getting a chance to woo their young superstar. This led to all sorts of debates surrounding the value of the 22-year-old versus the potential influx of assets if he signs an offer sheet.
Just a reminder, here is the breakdown for compensation for an offer sheet this summer:
$1,395,053 or below: No compensation required
$1,395,054 to $2,113,716: Third-round pick
$2,113,717 to $4,227,437: Second-round pick
$4,227,438 to $6,341,152: First-round pick plus a third-round pick
$6,341,153 to $8,454,871: First, second, and third-round picks
$8,454,872 to $10,568,589: Two first-round picks plus second and third-round picks
$10,568,590 and over: Four first-round picks
Let’s go ahead and assume that the Leafs will quickly match any offer below 8.45 million per year (and frankly, Marner won’t sign that). However, the sixth tier and subsequent two first-round picks plus second and third-round picks may do it. If the Leafs make it clear that they want to keep the number under 10, perhaps a club could go to the limit of tier six and purchase an elite star without giving up four first-round selections.
That said, I believe the Leafs would begrudgingly match a deal in that zone and then deal with the cap issues as they come. However, anything in the 11-plus-million-dollar range (rumoured to be Marner’s desired number) would and should result in Toronto walking away.
I don’t want this piece to appear to shine a spotlight and deem Marner as a greedy player. His play has spoken for itself. Additionally, the team has set a precedent for paying big dollars when they extended Auston Matthews for five years and 11.634 million per. Marner has led the team in points the last two seasons and isn’t looking to take a haircut for the good of the team. Matthews didn’t. William Nylander didn’t. So why should he?
The real debate boils down to how teams value positions. We know that centres are more difficult to find, develop and keep long term compared to wingers. They impact the game in a multitude of areas. Very few wingers have demanded (and received) double-digit contracts. As a comparison, Marner has outpaced Patrick Kane’s entry-level production (minus the Cup ring). But how much more should that earn him?
Kane signed for 5 years and 6.3mil coming out of his RFA deal (11.1% of the cap at the time).
That equates to 9.23 million with the expected 83 million dollar cap for next season.
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) May 28, 2019
Earlier this month, Jeff Villette wrote an illuminating piece on Marner's value compared to other players during and coming out of their entry-level contract under the salary cap. He isolated 37 players who fit the mould.
Removing players who settled for a pure bridge-deal, and those who signed the monster (now illegal) 10-plus year contracts (Nicklas Backstrom & Alex Ovechkin), he found that the average second-contract for the remaining forwards was around 11 percent of the cap – exactly where I landed on while comparing Marner to Kane's second deal.
These negotiations go further than just impacting salary cap leagues. If you remove Marner from the Leafs, that will shake plenty of things loose. The top power-play unit – and the other four skaters on it will see a downtick. It will open a juicy spot on the top line with John Tavares and could increase the value of a player like Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson. It will obviously greatly increase the shine on whichever team would be lucky enough to add him – despite the massive sacrifice in draft picks.
We talk about it every summer. The RFA offer sheet if coming. But every summer comes and goes and we see teams opt not to take an opposing team out at the knees. This is for a few reasons, not the least of which is driving the price up on all RFAs – theirs included. But this offseason just seems to have a different feel to it. The OS appears to be a very real threat.
For Toronto, they would love to get Marner on a deal around that 11 percent mark – in the 9.1 to 9.5 million dollar range on a four or five-year contract. However, if they lead with that, there really isn't much pressure on the Marner camp to sign before the negotiating window opens for the other 30 NHL clubs. Once that window opens, it may be hard to get the flies out.
Regardless of what happens, it should be highly entertaining to watch.
Not an overly interesting discussion from a fantasy perspective, but Jason Gregor was on TSN1040 on Tuesday and revealed that he has a source who confirmed that the Canucks had strongly considered moving Loui Eriksson to Edmonton for Milan Lucic. I'm not exactly sure why this would be the case as Lucic has an additional year on his terrible contract. Additionally, after a July 1st bonus is paid out, Eriksson's real money owed will be substantially lower than his cap hit – something floor-reaching teams are often interested in.
Lucic is a player who desperately needs to find his footing. I suppose the theory is he may be able to do so in his hometown. But I would not approve as I indicated on Twitter after the report broke.
There aren’t too many contracts you WOULDN’T flip Eriksson for but Lucic is definitely one of them.
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) May 28, 2019
Vancouver wants to make a splash as draft hosts this June. If this is it, I'm not sure they'll get the reaction they're hoping for.
Speaking of the draft, the Combine is currently firing up in Buffalo. These young players are put through the wringer both physically and mentally as they face a multitude of off-ice testing and gruelling interviews. Several key players have decided not to attend.
103 Draft-eligible players will attend the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine presented by adidas in Buffalo this week.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 28, 2019
It's not overly surprising to see a player like Danil Misyul skip as he's been playing for the U20 squad in Sochi this week. The other Russians may hurt their stock a tad by skipping the event entirely. I hate adding any more fuel to the Russian-factor fire. For Kaapo Kakko, he just wrapped up a tremendous draft-eligible campaign with a World Championship gold medal. He wouldn't need to test physically, and apparently, he feels he doesn't need to interview either. As the Canucks' scout at DobberProspects, I hope this turns off about nine teams and he slips to pick 10. I joke because I care.
Unconfirmed but I believe Kaapo Kakko is the first person in the history of hockey to win U18 World Championship, U20 World Championship and men's World Championship before being eligible for the NHL Draft.
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) May 26, 2019
It's been an incredible year for the 2001-born Americans. 16 of the 109 invitees are hailing from the USNTDP. An unheard of and record-setting total from one squad. The top-20 picks on draft day will likely feature six of those Americans – Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, Matthew Boldy, and Cam York. Additionally, the consensus number one goaltender on the board, Spencer Knight, is a very likely first-round selection and could even sneak into that top-20 zone.
All six should be squarely on your radar for fantasy drafts. The first five all have first-line upside. And speaking with an NHL scout recently, he believes Knight will be the top recruit for Boston College next season – A team welcoming Boldy and another top forward in, Alex Newhook. That's high praise for a soon-to-be freshman netminder.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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