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Dubas hints Matthews extension talks already being preliminary stages
Photo credit: NHL

KYLE DUBAS HINTS AT MATTHEWS EXTENSION TALKS ALREADY BEING IN THE PRELIMINARY STAGES

SEP 20, 2022  (18H23)      RYAN SMITHERAM
He isn't a free agent for another 22 months and yet the hockey world can't stop predicting that Auston Matthews will leave Toronto when his contract expires at the end of the 2023-24 season. Some have said he will go home to Arizona, others have said he will leave simply because the Leafs won't have the cap room to keep him.

For those saying the Leafs won't have cap room, the cap is expected to jump between $5M and 7$ in the summer of 2024 and the Leafs will have the contracts of Jake Muzzin and TJ Brodie coming off of the books. All that combine is approximately $17M extra in cap room. For those saying he will leave for Arizona, why would he want to play in a 5000 seat arena? Not to mention the NHL said the Coyotes could be playing at ASU and Mullet Arena for part of the 2025/26 season as a worst case scenario.

Kyle Dubas made it known at the end of the season that he would like Matthews to be a career Leaf and by the sounds of it, that is in the process of happening already. While sitting down with the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons they discussed Matthews' contract with Dubas saying:

"He's got two years left on his contract. I don't think that's a short amount of time. I understand why there is concern. I have conversations with Auston and his camp all the time, about everything, where we're at, where we're going. I know his feelings and thoughts on it. For us, you build an environment that someone feels they're flourishing in and getting better and they're pushed, and you're not just acquiescing to him. And you build that trust with him. I have my view of Auston and I think as special as he is as a player, he's that special as a person. He's evolved to be one of those type of players, the kind of player you hope to have."

I don't agree often with Simmons, but I do agree with his take on what Dubas has said here in that he is not concerned about losing Matthews and that Dubas is confident he will get a deal done. If you read farther into Dubas' comments it would seem that there have been casual conversations about the upcoming extension in an attempt to kick-start negotiations to limit the amount of noise the Leafs and Matthews will face come July 1 next year. The good news for Dubas is that with Nathan MacKinnon signing for a cap hit of $12.6M instead of the $13M+ that everyone expected, the Leafs may be able to save a few dollars of cap space on Matthews' extension - even though the deal is still likely to push the $14M+ mark.

WILL THE LEAFS PAY AUSTON MATTHEWS MORE THAN $14M PER SEASON ON HIS EXTENSION?
SEPTEMBER 20      490 ANSWERS
YES29259.6 %
NO15531.6 %
HE'LL WALK AS A FREE AGENT AND GET $15M+ ELSEWHERE438.8 %
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