One big name down for Kyle Dubas, one more to go.
Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed on a five-year, $58.17M extension ($11.634M cap hit), which will go a long way in the general manager keeping his young core together for multiple runs at the Stanley Cup. Per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, 93 percent of money coming the forward’s way will be paid in signing bonuses.
The 21-year-old Matthews, who was set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, could have signed a contract for eight years, the maximum term allowed for teams signing their own players, but a shorter deal allows for cap flexibility going forward.
It’s an extension that buys one unrestricted free agent year and will make him a UFA in the summer of 2024.
In 182 games with the Maple Leafs Matthews has scored 97 times and recorded 178 points. He’s sixth in goals scored and second in even strength goals scored (76) since his rookie year of 2016-17
Now that Matthews is taken care of, next on Dubas’ plate is Mitch Marner, who can also hit the restricted free agent market in the summer. One contract done means the GM has a better view into how to piece things together financially that makes the most sense for the organization and to help keep them a strong Cup contender going forward.
Marner’s agent stated in September that they were fine waiting until the off-season if an extension couldn’t be hammered out by the start of the 2018-19 NHL season. Nothing got done, and the 21-year-old forward has done his part to increase his price with a great season. Through 52 games he’s going to set career highs in goals, assists and points with a stat line of 20 goals and 63 points this season, and an average of 1.21 points per game.
But he’s also a winger and not a primary goalscoring center, which means his next deal won’t be nearly as rich as Matthews’. Could the Maple Leafs try a bridge deal to ensure cap flexibility going forward and allow Marner to still cash in but with a shorter term?
While his agent wants his client to focus on the season, the agent’s job is to do the negotiating for Marner, allowing him to concentrate on playing for the Maple Leafs. Matthews is done and you know Dubas will want to get Marner tied down before the summer.
Will Marner and his agent change their minds if the team puts out an offer now that’s feasible for both sides?