The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to make some major contractual announcements over the course of the summer, and the fan base has set their eyes on star forward Auston Matthews and what he plans on doing ahead of his free agency in 2019. There was already a major change last night, when a breaking news report from Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that Matthews will be represented by an entirely new agency when it comes time to negotiate his next contract with the Maple Leafs. From Friedman:
"It is a little inside baseball, but: Judd Moldaver, who worked closely with Auston Matthews, moved to Orr Hockey/Wasserman, which just joined forces. Matthews is going with him."
While Friedman did state that it was too early to tell the impact this shocking change would have on contract negotiations with the Maple Leafs, it did not take long for fans to imagine the worst and expose potential clues on what Matthews' new deal could look like, especially that Orr Hockey/Wasserman currently has Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid under their umbrella.
They all started by comparing the contract that McDavid signed to the one that Matthews will hope to sign at some point in the next two summers. Let's not forget that McDavid signed his deal a year before the end of his entry-level contract and he received an eight-year deal with a $12.5 million annual average value.
Matthews is not the only player that the Leafs are expected to sign this summer. Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, like Matthews, is about to enter the final year of his current entry-level deal and the Maple Leafs would be eligible to sign him to an extension if they wish to secure his services for the long term.
Even more pressing than the potential Marner deal will be the Maple Leafs' need to sign forward William Nylander who, unlike Matthews and Marner, has already played out the final year of his current contract.
No matter what takes place in the next few weeks, Leafs fans already fear that new general manager Kyle Dubas is facing quite the financial puzzle and will need to make some difficult choices this year when free agency rolls around. There has been much chatter about pending free agents James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak signing elsewhere despite the fact that both players would love to re-sign in Toronto.
While Matthews didn't hesitate the make a move ahead of contract negotiations, it seems like the Maple Leafs need will need to wait and see, and be quiet careful with their decisions in the coming months...