Maple Leafs sign Auston Matthews to five-year extension

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed star center Auston Matthews to a five-year contract extension worth $11.634 million annually, the team announced on Tuesday.

This extension makes Matthews the second-highest paid player in the NHL. Almost everyone who fallows the sport could have guess this would be the case.

Matthews was eligible to sign an eight-year extension, however, that would have complicated the team’s long-term salary cap outlook. This means Matthews can hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent by age 26.

The 21-year-old American has been as good as advertised since entering the league three years ago as the top pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. The left-shot sniper has 178 points in 182 career regular-season NHL games with Alex Ovechkin being the only player with a better goals per game rate since 2016-17. Sportsnet.ca

The reason for the heavy signing bonus is because it is guaranteed money even if there is a lockout.

“We’ve got a lot of great players on this team. A lot of young guys. A solid core. We want to be a great team and a team that makes the city proud — and accomplish our ultimate goal — for a long time,” Matthews said. “Keeping that core intact is a big part of that.”

I know one thing, Maple Leaf fans definitely would have liked the maximum eight-year term.

“There’s no secret there’s a cap. So, try to find something that works for both sides and obviously helps us out with that whole situation,” Matthews told reporters Saturday when asked about his contract situation and ongoing negotiations. “I’ll leave it to them and just continue to play hockey, and once it’s done, it’s done. That’ll be it.”

This is a player friendly contract for sure…