Before Kyle Dubas came out of left field and pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade, the most interesting thing from free agency day was Marc Bergevin inking Sebastian Aho to a five-year offer sheet.
With a historically-good restricted free agent class featuring Aho, our boy Mitch Marner, Matt Tkachuk, Brayden Point, and Mikko Rantanen, speculation about a GM with a wealth of cap room and no interest in draft picks tendering a massive offer sheet has been swirling for months. Given the fact these things almost never happen, we brushed it off.
But then came Bergevin seeking to acquire the top centre Les Habitants so desperately covet. Bergevin signed Aho, who put up 83 points in 82 games on a surprising Hurricanes team last year, to a five-year offer sheet worth $8.45 million annually. The offer was heavily loaded with signing bonuses, as Aho will be paid roughly $21 million in signing bonuses over the next calendar year.
The idea here was that Carolina, a smaller market club, wouldn’t be able to handle paying Aho a massive chunk of cash (which, in this case, was $11.3M right off the hop), so they would let him go and take the draft picks. This, of course, is kinda hilarious given that Canes owner Tom Dundon dropped like $250 million on a fly-by-night professional football league that folded in about eight hours.
What actually happened is everyone in the Canes’ front office laughed at the contract and thanked Bergevin for getting what could have been a long, difficult RFA processed finished for them.
Folks, I can tell you that Hurricanes team executives were literally cheering about how easy the offer sheet would be to sign. It doesn't matter who is saying what right now.
— Sara Civ (@SaraCivian) July 2, 2019
Reports earlier in the off-season indicated that Aho was looking for as much as $9.5 million and that the Canes wanted to grind him down to somewhere around $7.5 million. Then Bergevin rolled in and helped Carolina get their star centre locked up to a deal right in the middle at $8.45 million while saving the front office weeks of headache.
I’m sure Kyle Dubas would love a similar favour, so if Bergevin could go ahead and get Mitch Marner to sign an offer sheet that the Leafs could easily match, that would be great. I mean, if Bergevin is going out and doing other general managers favours like this, there’s no reason he can’t help out here too.
With some nice tightrope walking, Dubas has opened up enough off-season cap room to match virtually any realistic Marner offer sheet, so hopefully Bergevin takes the next step and gets this contract done for the Leafs so we can all move on and enjoy our summer.