The Leafs have to issue qualifying offers to all of their unsigned RFAs, including Mitch Marner. The deadline to submit these basic contract offers is today at 5 p.m.

For a player like Mitch Marner, this is a formality that has to be observed, but has no impact on contract negotiations. At the other end of the spectrum, there are many RFAs in the NHL who will become UFAs today because the team that holds their rights decided not to issue a qualifying offer. Most of those players are full-time AHLers.

The Leafs unsigned RFAs are:

  • Mitch Marner
  • Andreas Johnsson
  • Kasperi Kapanen
  • Michael Carcone
  • Gabriel Gagne
  • Nicholas Baptiste
  • Jordan Subban
  • Eamon McAdam/

What is a Qualifying Offer?

It’s an actual bona fide contract offer. If a player accepts it, as Andreas Johnsson did last year, the terms of the offer become the terms of his Standard Player Contract (SPC). This concept is part of the restricted part of being an RFA. By issuing this offer, the team retains exclusive rights to the player.

If an NHL team does not issue a qualifying offer to a player, that player becomes a UFA on July 1. If the player does not accept the offer, and does not sign an extension, they stay an RFA. A player, therefore, can’t make themselves into a UFA.

Qualifying offers have to meet minimum standards, and are at least the same amount as the current salary. Cap Friendly has a calculator and lists the rules, so if you want to know who is due a one-way or two-way and how much it is, you can look that up.

The extension a player ultimately signs can be for less than the qualifying offer or two-way instead of one-way.

Why would a team not issue the QO?

It’s not a statement on the worth of the player, necessarily. For some teams with borderline depth NHLers or AHL players on NHL deals, they just don’t have the SPC space or the roster room in for everyone.

Jordan Subban, who is good enough on the power play to make a lot of AHL teams will not be able to find ice time on the Marlies. Eamon McAdam is one goalie too many on an NHL contract. Both players will get offers other than NHL contracts if they go unqualified, and they are both better off getting the best non-NHL deal they can find to actually get playing time.

For the forwards on the Marlies, there’s no trouble finding them a spot on the roster, and the SPC space is healthy right now, so there’s no reason there not to keep them under restricted rights on two-way NHL deals. The Leafs may still choose to part ways with some of them, however.

Can the Leafs find gems other teams didn’t qualify?

You bet! There’s all sorts of good AHL talent out there that’s suddenly UFA and can be signed to either a two-way NHL deal or an AHL contract. That’s the sort of gem you find. I can’t recall an NHL player of significance, even depth significance, that became a UFA after not being qualified, but there might be some.

What about Johnsson and Kapanen?

Their contracts have not been filed and are not official. If the Leafs don’t do that by 5 p.m. today, for whatever reason, they’ll have to issue them with qualifying offers as a formality. They might be holding those contracts back, waiting to see what Marner’s ultimate AAV is to maximize offseason LTIR if that becomes necessary to use.

Official word on all these deals should be announced today by 5 p.m. Interestingly, Mr Lou Lamoriello, who once delayed telling the Leafs media who he’d qualified until someone pried it out of the NHL office at 5:30 p.m., announced the Islanders players unqualified days ago. I guess it’s just not as much fun to mess with the media on the Island.