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Maple Leafs : Auston Matthews is asking for about $14 million a year

Within the next 24 months, all four of the Maple Leafs’ big stars will have expiring contracts. John Tavares and Mitch Marner will be free in two years, and next year it’ll be Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

With Max Domi, Tyler Bertuzzi, Matt Murray, TJ Brodie and John Klingberg (to name but a few) also set to be free in a year’s time, the Leafs will have their work cut out for them.

They’ll have flexibility to do it (only Morgan Rielly is signed long-term), but it’ll be a big challenge in the short term. Why is that?

Because GM Brad Treliving is keen to sign Matthews and Nylander quickly, but the club’s flexibility will be there in a year’s time, not as early as the summer of 2023, which is now.

What this means is that the GM not only has to try to sign his guys for the long term, but he also has to find a way to get the 2023-2024 mass in line.

You might think that the two cases are unrelated, since Nylander and Matthews already have an established value under the 2023-2024 mass, but if the GM destroys the club to comply with the cap, it could cool the guys’ ardor.

So these are conditions that add to Treliving’s degree of difficulty at the helm of his new club. Because no, signing the two stars for the long term isn’t simple.

First of all, Nylander, who makes $6.9 million per season, wants a big $80-million contract, or eight years at $10 million per campaign. This is currently too much for the Maple Leafs, who want to give him more than $8.5 million. A contract is therefore not imminent.

Of course, having Nylander at $10 million a year would destroy the salary balance for the future. It’s understandable that the Leafs want to go to $8.5 million for now.

After all, if Nylander makes $10M, how much will the others demand?

(Credit: Cap Friendly)

Because let’s not forget that Matthews is also eligible to sign a long-term contract right now since his current deal, which is multi-year, is less than a year away from expiry.

And he’s going to be asking for a lot.

The more time passes, the more we understand that the guy doesn’t want an eight-year contract, not only to avoid handcuffing himself to Toronto, but also to break the bank again.

Alex DeBrincat did just that in Detroit.

According to David Pagnotta, the American player would like to see what the Leafs will do for Nylander before starting to talk seriously. So he wants to sign second.

A five-year contract around $14 million per season could be in his sights.

In all, that would be $70 million for a five-year contract. I don’t know if he’ll end up with that, but it would make him (by far) the player with the most money under his team’s cap.

Currently, Matthews is ahead of Nathan MacKinnon ($12.6 M), Connor McDavid ($12.5 M) and Artemi Panarin ($11.6 M) in the hierarchy. And clearly, he wants to be the first to the top.

The good news for the Maple Leafs is that he seems open to extending his stay in the Queen City. Rumours of a return to Arizona have been rife for years.

But in the medium term, he seems to want to stay in town.

In bursts

– The standings won’t budge during the MLB All-Star break.

– Nolan Patrick’s name won’t be on the Stanley Cup. [RDT]

– Really?

– Small signature.

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