The Toronto Maple Leafs are heading into quite the summer in terms of contract negotiations, with Mitch Marner set to be “priority one” over the next few months. Beyond their young star though there are several other players who need new deals including Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. The latter of the two is eligible for arbitration since he is already 24 years old, and apparently has already turned down multi-year extension offers from the Maple Leafs. Darren Dreger was on TSN radio this morning speaking about the cap crunch that Toronto will be facing, and indicated that the team had offered Johnsson a two-year deal worth $4.2MM (total) and a four-year deal worth $10.4MM at the trade deadline.
Johnsson, the Calder Cup MVP in 2018 with the Toronto Marlies, had an excellent rookie season with the Maple Leafs and recorded 20 goals and 43 points in 73 games. The speedy left winger played on a line with Auston Matthews for much of the season and throughout the playoffs, and showed he could keep up and score timely goals for the club. That kind of depth is exactly what the team will need if they want to finally get over the hump and advance to the second round of the playoffs, but with Matthews, John Tavares and Marner taking up something around $30MM moving forward the team will have to decide carefully how to spend their finances.
If Johnsson does go to arbitration he would be able to receive a one or two year deal, and potentially could earn more than the $2.1-2.6MM average annual value offered by the Maple Leafs at the deadline. That would get him even closer to unrestricted free agency—currently scheduled for the summer of 2022—while also giving him the chance to prove he can take another step offensively and deserve an even bigger payday.
There’s no reason to think that their is any animosity between the two sides, in fact it simply may have been a case of not wanting to negotiate during the season. But the Maple Leafs have some tough decisions to make this offseason on how to build their roster around the core of stars, given the lack of playoff success so far.