A topic of speculation for years around the hockey world has been offer sheets and how teams could use them as predatory strikes against rivals, driving up cap hits or attempting to steal their best players. One team in particular that is targeted with hypothetical situations is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have heard that just about every team in the league is preparing to sign both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to offer sheets this summer. The Maple Leafs are in a tricky financial situation after signing William Nylander and John Tavaresto expensive long-term deals, meaning it would be tough for them to match the lucrative offers some other franchises could wave in front of their other young stars.
There are so many barriers before anything like that actually happens though, and one of them is simply the Maple Leafs signing Matthews or Marner to a long-term extension before they even reach restricted free agency in the first place. Though that won’t take place with Marner, whose representatives have made it clear they will wait until after the season to start negotiating, it very well may happen with Matthews. Today, when speaking with reporters in Toronto including Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, GM Kyle Dubas explained that the team has “made progress” on an extension for their explosive sniper. Dubas would like the deal done before the trade deadline if possible.
Matthews, 21, is having another fantastic season for the Maple Leafs with 20 goals and 42 points in 34 games. Though he missed a fair chunk of time earlier in the year—and is in something of a slump at the moment—he’s still poised to have quite the resume when discussing any long-term extension.