However, the meeting doesn't necessarily mean an offer will come to fruition. Portzline sees no indication that Marner wants to leave Toronto, and the Jackets are convinced the Maple Leafs would match any offer sheet, perhaps by trading fellow young forward William Nylander, he added.
Nylander inked a six-year, $45-million contract on Dec. 1, 2018 with the Leafs after a well-documented holdout. He struggled after rejoining the team, tallying 27 points in 54 games.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said previously it's not a foregone conclusion he'd match any offer sheet for Marner.
The Maple Leafs have $3.8 million in projected cap space, according to CapFriendly, but that'll increase by $5.3 million when Nathan Horton is placed on long-term injured reserve. They could add slightly more cap space by optioning players to the minors, as they currently have 23 on their roster.
Regardless, the Maple Leafs would be hard-pressed to match an offer sheet exceeding $10.6 million. The Blue Jackets have the required draft pick capital to submit an offer sheet with a cap hit either below $1,395,053 or above $10,568,589. An offer sheet with a cap hit exceeding the latter would cause the club to forfeit four of its next five first-round picks.
The Blue Jackets have a projected $15.8 million in cap space but have some internal housekeeping to take care of; fellow RFA Zach Werenski remains without a contract, while Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson are also due for raises next summer.
Marner would undoubtedly reinvigorate a fan base that just watched Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, and Sergei Bobrovsky walk as free agents on July 1. The 22-year-old winger tallied a career-high 94 points for the Leafs in 2018-19.