Mitch Marner's heart was always in Toronto.
According to his agent, the Markham, Ontario, native received a pair of offer sheets while he was a restricted free agent this summer, but declined both in hopes of staying with his hometown Maple Leafs, with whom he signed last week.
"There were two (offer sheets) presented to him in the summer," Darren Ferris told TSN 1050's Michael Landsberg and Carlo Colaiacovo on "First Up" on Monday morning. "Two opportunities, which he declined. He told me 'Darren, I don't want to sign. I want to be a Leaf.' So we declined both those opportunities."
Marner echoed Ferris' comments.
"As soon as Darren mentioned (offer sheets), I told him right away I don't want to explore that option," the forward told TSN's Kristen Shilton. "But I didn't want to miss training camp ... or any games this season, so that's why I really forced the issue with (general manager Kyle Dubas) to get something done and get me here."
The details of the offer sheets are unknown, but Dubas was aware of at least one of them. Ferris also suggested that there would have been more on the way.
"The team had actually told (Dubas) that they had made the overture to Mitch," Ferris said. "There was a very, very strong likelihood there were more being represented once the season started as you know, the cap number gets set and makes it more difficult for a team to match.
"His goal always was to be Leaf and that was the conclusion. The Leaf organization worked hard, especially Kyle working tireless hours. He and I going back and forth, ups and downs of normal negotiations, finally got the deal done in a timely fashion that he could get to camp, and that's what Mitch wanted."
Had Marner signed an offer sheet, it would've been the second in the NHL this summer after nearly six years without one. Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho signed a five-year offer sheet worth $8.454 million per year with the Montreal Canadiens on July 1, but Carolina wasted no time matching it.
Marner and the Leafs signed a six-year contract with an average annual value of $10.893 million on Friday. Ferris revealed that the final two digits of the AAV were a tribute to Leafs legend Doug Gilmour, who wore No. 93 during his days in Toronto. During his junior career with the London Knights, Marner also wore No. 93.