Several top 10 draft picks from the 2016 NHL Entry Draft have signed their entry-level contracts, but the first pick, Auston Matthews, still hasn’t agreed to terms with the Maple Leafs.
“There is nothing to talk about with reference to Auston’s contract until it’s done,” said GM Lou Lamoriello, per the Toronto Sun. “We’re certainly talking to his representative. I don’t think this is something that’s going to take long. I have total confidence that he’ll be under contract.”
Second overall pick Patrik Laine signed his deal with the Jets, third pick Pierre-Luc Dubois agreed to terms with Columbus, sixth pick Matthew Tkachuk signed his ELC with the Flames and ninth pick Mikhail Sergachev signed with the Habs. So what’s the hold up with Matthews and Toronto? Probably Lamoriello’s reluctance to hand out performance bonuses.
Entry-level contracts for first overall picks are relatively standard. They usually come with a base salary of $925,000 and two different bonuses. But as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston pointed out, Lamoriello is one of the few general managers that got a top five pick not to take any bonuses.
Here’s an excerpt from Johnston’s story:
There have been 11 first-overall selections since the entry-level system was introduced coming out of the 2004-05 lockout and they’ve all had this contract.
Auston Matthews is the 12th. We await the signing of his first NHL deal.
While there is absolutely no evidence the Toronto Maple Leafs are having difficulty with that process, the Matthews situation bears watching because general manager Lou Lamoriello is on record as being opposed to performance bonuses.
In fact, he refused to give them out while running the New Jersey Devils. He even got Adam Larsson, the No. 4 pick in 2011, to accept a contract without them – an extremely rare concession for someone selected so high.
Lamoriello might be a fierce negotiator, but there’s little doubt that Matthews will get every possible bonus allowed under the current CBA. The Leafs know what kind of player they have in Matthews and they’ll have to pony up the cash to lock him up.
CapFriendly.com has a solid breakdown of the entry-level bonuses: