Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk will be a member of the NHL's stacked restricted free-agent class of 2019, so he paid special attention to Auston Matthews' new five-year deal on Tuesday worth $11.634 million per season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I feel like every year there's a couple guys, a couple big names every year who kind of change the way a little bit," Tkachuk told Daniel Austin of the Calgary Sun. "I think Auston changed it, too, going with the approach (of) a five-year deal, too. Maybe people haven't seen that in a couple years, but it's not like, uncommon. Guys used to do that all the time. He definitely set the bar."
However, unlike Matthews, Tkachuk said he prefers to play out the rest of the season and worry about his new contract in the summer.
Tkachuk was selected five spots after Matthews (sixth overall) in the 2016 draft, and the two were teammates at the world juniors and with the U.S. National Development Program.
The winger has taken his game to a new level this season, as he's recorded a career-high 57 points through 53 games for the first-place Flames. The 21-year-old is one of several key young players up for a new contract after this season, along with Mitch Marner, Sebastian Aho, Patrik Laine, and Mikko Rantanen, among others.