After the often tense and dragged out negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander earlier this season, there has to be excitement across Leafs Nation to hear contract talks on a new deal for Auston Matthews are intensifying and a new deal appears to be on the horizon.
Although some in Leafs Nation would like to see Matthews sign a 8-year deal, all signs point to a five- or six-year deal whenever both sides agree on the final details of a new contract. The five year deal would buy the Maple Leafs one year of Matthews’ UFA years, while the six year contract would buy the team two.
By agreeing to buy less UFA years, the Maple Leafs can bring the cap hit down to a more cap friendly amount between $11-12 million, it would have meant a higher cap hit had either side pushed for the max-year deal.
From Matthew’s perspective, why take a hard stance on a 8-year deal if that means more of the talent on this team would need to be shipped out. Keeping the talented core together over a longer period of time, would mean more of an opportunity at the ultimate prize and solidifying his place in Maple Leafs lore.
This takes me to Mitch Marner, another of the brightest stars not only on the Maple Leafs but across the NHL. I tweeted last week, I have no problem with any player negotiating the best deal possible for himself. However what I would expect and want is that Marner’s camp once Matthews’ deal is signed that they too open negotiations with the Maple Leafs.
Marner will get his money and that isn’t the problem, but when his camp states they won’t negotiate in-season because of what they call “distractions”. This becomes a problem, How are contract negotiations for Matthews not a distraction but they are for Marner?
If I were Marner, I would have my agent/parents work on the new deal and only bring me options that are worth considering. That has been Matthews’ plan, and we are closer to deal because of it. Whereas with Marner, we are no further ahead and progress cannot happen when one side won’t at least come to the table.
For Marner, it is time to come to the table and get his deal squared away. He will have enough pressure on him heading into the playoffs to have his unresolved contract status be an additional stress. There is much to be excited about heading into this year’s playoffs so why have that ruined by what will be the media’s constant obsession with offer sheets, and it will only persist if Marner isn’t signed before then.
We all learned something from Nylander’s contract extension and the distractions that come from dragging negotiations and placing a firm line in the sand. Now let’s see if those same lessons learned will be applied now so everyone can get back to winning hockey games and not what is happening in a boardroom.