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Auston Matthews contract: a game-changer for Mitch Marner’s future
Late yesterday afternoon (or early evening, whichever you prefer), the Maple Leafs checked a big box on their list of priorities this summer: they reached an agreement with Auston Matthews on the terms of a four-year contract extension.

It was an expensive deal, but it means he’ll be in town for the next five seasons.

Clearly, Brad Treliving couldn’t afford to risk losing him for nothing a year from now. At $13.25M per year for four years, that’s a huge amount of money, but the Leafs needed to keep their best player.

And at the top of his game, Matthews is undoubtedly one of the top five players in the league.

On the other hand, Matthews’ new pact (which will come into effect once the salary cap starts to rise again) is a game-changer for the league’s top players. He’s reset the market a bit, in the end, and the guys know it.

A guy like Leon Draisaitl, who can sign a contract extension as early as July 1, must have been salivating since last night.

But when you look at Toronto, it also changes reality in a big way. We know that William Nylander will become an independent player at the end of next season and that the club has negotiated with him to keep him for the long term, but at the moment, nothing is settled.

And can we blame him for wanting his piece of the pie after the pact Matthews signed yesterday?

However, it’s not just Nylander who’s changing the game: Mitch Marner, like Draisaitl, will be eligible to sign a contract extension on July 1, and yesterday’s announcement can’t have fallen on deaf ears.

On the Maple Leafs’ salary scale, Marner is just behind Matthews at the top. And while the winger may be a notch below his center, he’s still one of the best players in the league too.

As Elliotte Friedman mentioned in today’s 32 Thoughts Podcast, that might make Marner want to get closer to $13 million too.

I’m willing to believe that the salary cap will go up eventually, but if Matthews and Marner take up about $26M of the payroll between them, the Maple Leafs are going to have to work hard to build around them.

That’s why Friedman thinks next season will tell a lot about Marner and Nylander’s future in town. Because if everyone signs for big money, it won’t be sustainable.

Brad Treliving may have settled Matthews’ case yesterday, but he clearly still has his work cut out for him. It won’t be easy for him to figure out how to handle Nylander and Marner, especially if both guys want a ton of money in turn.

At least Montreal doesn’t have that problem to deal with right now.

In bursts

– Nothing less.

– The Flames are confident heading into next season.

– Listen now.

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