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Thoughts On The Matthews Extension

August 24, 2023, 4:24 PM ET [29 Comments]
HockeyBuzz Hotstove
Later on Wednesday it was announced that Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs had come to an agreement on a 4 year contract extension that will kick in at the start of the 24/25 season. The deal carries an annual AAV of 13.25 million, making Matthews the highest paid player ever in the NHL.

Today I sit with Zak MacMillan and Mike Augello to discuss the deal.

Sean Maloughney

I could be glib here and make a jab at how Matthews is just prepping himself to bolt from the Leafs in a few years to head state side but the truth is this is a pretty decent deal for both sides. While I'm sure Leafs fans would have rather seen him sign an 8 year deal, it's still better to have Matthews for the next five years than it is one.

Matthews and his camp know that the cap is going to continue to spike over the next few seasons. A four year deal put Matthews just under 30 years old and primed to cash in on one more long term deal after the fact, probably for well over 15 million at that point. Can't fault a guy for wanting to make his money.

The Leafs lock up a guy in their window to compete who is arguably the best natural goal scorer in the NHL. On an "off year" Matthews still put up 40 goals in 74 games. Fans certainly would like to see more of this production in the post-season but that will come. Overall Leafs fans should be happy that arguably the third best player in the NHL wants to be there for the foreseeable future.

Mike Augello

Not unexpected that Matthews eclipses McDavid and MacKinnon to become the highest-paid player in the NHL, the Leafs wanted to get the most term they could get and just like in 2019 when they got a five year deal instead of eight, they get a shorter-term four year deal that allows him to become a free agent again at 30.

The other factor here is William Nylander, who is asking for more than $10 million per season, there is no way that the Leafs can pay him that or sign him to an extension past next year and trade him, since they will only get pennies on the dollar at the deadline or next summer.

Zak MacMillan

Maybe the best American born player when his career is said and done, but the California native has no cups to his name. Big money belongs with champions in this day and age. It is a risk of the Shanaplan to execute this signing, but there is nobody that can replace Matthews’ raw talent.

He is a number one center. A goal scoring number one center, which are rarer to find in the modern cap era. Cap shenanigans are on the horizon for Treliving and company every year this is on the books. He must win Toronto a cup for this to be the best signing.

It is a win for the elite players to make the money. It is a win for the Matthews’ family. It might be a blow to the Leafs each summer as they may strip the team’s middle class for entry level rookies or league minimum veterans entering their twilight years.
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