Maple Leafs' Matthews inks 4-year extension with record $13.25M AAV
The Toronto Maple Leafs locked up star sniper Auston Matthews to a four-year extension with a record-setting average annual value of $13.25 million, the team announced Wednesday.
Matthews, 25, has one season remaining on his current deal with an $11.64-million cap hit. He could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
With his new cap hit beginning in 2024-25, Matthews will be the highest-paid player in the league, surpassing Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon's $12.6-million price tag.
The vast majority of his yearly salary will be paid out in signing bonuses, and his deal includes a full no-move clause:
Matthews has been one of the league's top goal-scorers since his four-goal NHL debut on Oct. 12, 2016, and he won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in back-to-back years in 2021 and 2022. Matthews became the first player in Maple Leafs history to hit the 60-goal mark in a single season after scorching the league in 2021-22.
His 299 goals in 481 games since 2016-17 are the most in the league, beating out the likes of Alex Ovechkin (297 goals) and Connor McDavid (287 goals). Matthews is also a beast at five-on-five, pacing the entire field with 223 even-strength goals over seven seasons.
Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau for the fourth straight campaign in 2022-23 and registered 85 points in 74 games while averaging 20:17 minutes of ice time per contest. He also logged a career-high 92 blocks and 78 hits and placed 14th in Selke Trophy voting as he continues to grow his two-way presence.
He led the Maple Leafs with five tallies in six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was instrumental in propelling Toronto to its first postseason series win since 2004.
Matthews' best statistical season came in 2021-22 when he became the first Maple Leaf since Doug Gilmour in 1993-94 to eclipse the 100-point mark. He took home the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Trophy in honor of his efforts.
Despite not yet reaching 500 games played in his career, Matthews already ranks fifth all time in franchise history in goals, as well as seventh in even-strength goals and fourth in game-winning goals (53). His career 0.62 goals-per-game rate is also the highest in Leafs history among skaters to play in at least 200 games for the franchise.
Mats Sundin holds the title as Toronto's all-time leading scorer with 420 goals, meaning Matthews is 122 tallies away from taking the crown. He'd have to average an extremely attainable 24.4 goals in each of the next five seasons to accomplish the feat.
With the cap expected to rise to $87.5 million in 2024-25, Matthews' deal will eat up approximately 15% of Toronto's salary space, according to CapFriendly.
The Maple Leafs are projected to have about $33.4 million in available cap space next summer, even after signing Matthews. However, William Nylander, Tyler Bertuzzi, T.J. Brodie, and Ilya Samsonov will all be in need of new deals as unrestricted free agents, while Mitch Marner and John Tavares will both be eligible to sign extensions next July 1.
The Maple Leafs selected Matthews first overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. He's amassed 44 points in 50 career playoff contests.