Former Leaf provides some thoughts on the Matthews extension

Dean Chaudhry
August 29, 2023  (6:58 PM)

The Auston Matthews deal was largely well received amongst the Leafs' fanbase and for very good reason. Although the term wasn't as long as many would have hoped for, the $13.25 million AAV is reasonable, considering his standing amongst the best in the league. The modest $1.6M raise also gives the Leafs a little bit more wiggle room to figure out their other contract negotiations with William Nylander or Mitch Marner down the road.

Former Maple Leafs defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo took some time on TSN 1050's First Up on Tuesday to give some insight on the deal, starting with the small faction of fans who thought the $13.25 AAV was too high:
"You knew Matthews was gonna get a raise, anybody that thought Matthews was not gonna get a raise, clearly is delusional... that's not what happens. Good players always get raises in their next deals. So it was pretty easy to figure out where Matthews was gonna slot in and I think everyone was happy that it slotted between the two numbers that most people felt comfortable with, 13 and 14..."
He then continues by citing 2 main reasons as to why this deal was a home run. The deal sets the market once again for the NHL - which is great - and it also helps the Leafs with the rest of their roster moves:
"I have no problem with this deal because it does 2 things. 1) It keeps Auston Matthews as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is something we all wanted and 2) It puts him in a good market so that it allows the Leafs to continue to keep the rest of their players or have the flexibility to do other things with their roster next year or the year after when the cap goes up significantly"
Colaiacovo then talks about the 4-year term and how it's actually better that he didn't receive the maximum number of years, which a lot of people were blindly hoping for:
"I've told many people, I'm not a fan of the 8-year deals, I'm really not, because I've seen it too many times where you think you got a guy locked up long term. John Tavares is a perfect example of a guy on a long-term deal, how many times were people in Leaf-land fed up [that it wasn't shorter]?"
There are of course other examples where a long-term deal was beneficial, to which Colaiacovo agreed, however the sentiment remains that 8-years is always a gamble, even with a superstar like Matthews. He shared his thoughts on the matter:
"The reason why I'm comfortable with 4 years is because now you got the next 5 years with Auston Matthews in the fold. You do the math, it'll be 12 years of service he's given this organization. In this 7 years we've [had] Auston Matthews, there's only been one playoff win. If in the next 5 years that doesn't change, do you still want to commit to this group, or do you want move on to something different?"
As he points out, if the Leafs somehow fail to succeed in the next 5 years, they don't have to worry about having their core signed long-term. In the off-chance that that actually happens, they could do the inevitable and restart by blowing things up, which helps when you don't have to try to unload high dollar deals with multiple years of term remaining.
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