Another young star signs 8-year deal while the Leafs can't get nearly anyone to commit to 8 years

Published August 22, 2023 at 10:47
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

Today, the Leafs' playoff rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning, announced that they signed 24-year-old Brandon Hagel to an 8-year extension worth $52M, which averages out to $6.5M per season. Since Hagel still has one year remaining on his current deal, his new deal will begin in the 2024-2025 season.

Hagel was acquired by the Lightning from Chicago at the 2022 trade deadline along with a pair of fourth round picks. In exchange, the Bolts sent forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk and first round picks in 2023 and 2024 to Chicago. Last season, Hagel set career highs in goals, assists and points (30-34-64) in his first full season with the Lightning. In 103 regular season games with the Bolts, recording 34 goals and 71 points.

In signing Hagel, the Bolts now have 6 players, and essentially their new core, locked in past the 2027-2028 season:

Brayden Point 7x$9.5M
Mikhail Sergachev 8x$8.5M
Brandon Hagel 8x$6.5M (starts in 24-25)
Anthony Cirelli 8x$6.25M
Erik Cernak 8x$5.2M
Nick Paul 6x$3.15M


While their rivals and other teams around the league continue to sign young players to 8-year contracts, the Leafs continue to struggle to get their stars to commit long-term. It begs the question; why are the Leafs the only team that is unable to sign their stars to maximum term contracts? That issue likely goes back to when the likes of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner were eligible for their first contract extensions and instead of pushing for 8-year deals, Kyle Dubas gave in to their demands for shorter-term deals.

That trend looks ready to continue based on the reports of Matthews' next contract being between 3 and 5 years. It is one thing that Brad Treliving needs to correct and could be the reason why Matthews hasn't signed yet as the Leafs could be trying to convince him to sign longer than what has been reported. It may be speculation, but hopefully it's also the reality as if Matthews re-ups for 7 or 8 years at a more reasonable cap hit than originally reported, perhaps we'll see Nylander follow suit. Then, perhaps Marner do the same next summer when he becomes eligible for an extension.

Right now, more than anything else, the Leafs need to change the culture from a "me first" approach to a "team first" approach. That begins with management establishing a new set of principles and ends with the players understanding that winning is a lot easier to do with everyone aspiring for the same goal and making sacrifices to achieve glory.

To this point, only Morgan Rielly has committed to a max 8-year term in Toronto, taking a team-friendly $7.5M pay day. Very disappointing that the rest of the core hasn't followed suit.


POLL
August 22   |   272 answers
Another young star signs 8-year deal while the Leafs can't get nearly anyone to commit to 8 years

Are you surprised by the lack of max-term deals the Leafs are able to get out of players?

Definitely, and it's frustrating10337.9 %
No, it doesn't surprise me at all11743 %
I'll wait until Auston and Willy sign to decide4014.7 %
See results124.4 %
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