Mitch Marner and Leafs' Game of Chicken Seems Like It'll End in Chaos

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Six / Claus Andersen/Getty Images

With their second-best offensive player on the market as a free agent, the Toronto Maple Leafs have decided to play hardball with 22-year-old rising star Mitch Marner.

Marner is a restricted free agent, and teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders in need of Marner's offensive creativity are gearing up a potential offer sheet. While the Maple Leafs will likely match any offer sheet, it sounds like they and Marner, who led the team with 68 assists and 94 points last year, are still far apart on any potential long-term deal.

In a sense, the Leafs have turned this whole affair into one giant game of chicken, and are desperately waiting for one party to blink first.

Despite Marner's apparent wish to stay in Toronto, the Leafs' cost-cutting ways just a year removed from backing up the Brinks truck for John Tavares and Auston Matthews, could make a long-term deal north of the border hard to come by.

If people are wondering why the Leafs haven't won the cup since expansion in 1967, it's due to peculiar moves like this. Sure, it's likely Toronto will match any offer sheet Marner signs, but couldn't this all be avoided fairly easily? Pay up, Toronto.