Sometimes it seems like Auston Matthews is the only guy in the NHL who actually gets it. Almost every single time an NHL superstar is about to sign a new ticket, they always take the years. 7-8 year deals all over the place. And I get it. Guys want stability. Guys want to make a commitment to their team. But it's like these guys have one or two moments in their career where they get to be in charge, and they punt every single time.
Auston Matthews don't play like that. Auston Matthews might just go around signing 4-year deals for the rest of his career. Because he knows that after those 4 years are up, one of two things are going to happen--either he's going to get a $2million pay raise, or he'll finally be able to get himself out of Toronto after they crash and burn out of the playoffs again.
Obviously it doesn't hurt when you're a 25-year-old superstar who is in the prime of your career and going to have plenty more 50-goal seasons coming up here. And obviously it doesn't make sense for Auston Matthews to make a long-term commitment to the Maple Leafs with any of these contract extensions considering they haven't been able to figure it out for 60 years. To be fair, he'll have given the Toronto Maple Leafs 12 years of his career by the time this next contract is up. So if they can't find a way to at least sniff the Cup in those 12 years with one of the best goal scorers of a generation, they don't deserve to keep him past 30.
It's probably not the greatest look in the world that Toronto couldn't get him to sign for longer term. But it's also not the worst look either. At the very least, they were able to save themselves from Matthews going to free agency next summer. And maybe some of the other additions they made this summer will make it worth his while to see things through in Toronto. Clearly the Leafs are trying to get a little tougher out there for the playoffs so they went out and signed Ryan Reaves, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Max Domi.
Reaves might not be an every night player, but he can still make guys shit their pants out there during the playoffs. Bertuzzi just came over on a 1-year deal at $5.5M AAV, so they probably won't be able to keep him around after that if he has a big season. But having Bertuzzi coming over an a "prove it" contract should be big for them. And I have a feeling we're going to be seeing something special out of Max Domi now that he's finally able to put on that Maple Leafs sweater like his old man.
I would have loved to see the circus that would have ensued with Matthews heading into this season without a contract extension and the Leafs getting bounced out of the first round. But things are actually looking pretty solid right now for Toronto. At least for this season.