Well, it seems clear now what are the priorities in Toronto... Contract talks between the Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews are underway, the star forward informed Sportsnet's Luke Fox.
Matthews still has one year remaining on his entry-level contract, which will pay him $925,000 in 2018-19. While he is set to become a restricted free agent after next season, the Leafs don't want to waste time and are getting to it now, as Matthews has been eligible for a contract extension since July 1, 2018.
It's unclear how much Matthews will be paid, however an eight-year deal with a cap hit somewhere between Buffalo Sabres' Jack Eichel's $10 million and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid's $12.5 million seems realistic and the best comparables possible.
However, while the news of Matthews contract talks being underway is exciting, the Leafs appear to be struggling with what to do with William Nylander and his next contract. Jared Clinton of The Hockey News recently exposed the difficulties Toronto might have with William Nylander’s next contract and how something less promising than what is being offered for Matthews might be on the table for Nylander...
As the Leafs face Matthews' new contract and expected big deals for Mitch Marner, as well as trying to re-sign or eventually replace defenseman Jake Gardiner, Clinton thinks we might see a short-term bridge deal being offered to Nylander...
How will he react? Nylander was too believed to possibly land a contract similar to the one offered to Eichel. Clinton noted that Nylander’s past production makes him comparable not only to Eichel, but also to Leon Draisaitl. A bridge deal might be something most teams would look to avoid — especially if Nylander’s statistics improve this season.
The financial puzzle appears quite complicated for now in Toronto, and while fans will be thrilled to see the Leafs are working seriously at offering Matthews the perfect deal, despite signing a blockbuster one with John Tavares earlier this month, the Toronto fan base might be getting worried for another promising player in Nylander.
Because all fans know right now - and start to worry about - is that Nylander, as it stands right now, still is left without a deal for the 2018-19 season.