We’re a full week into the 2018-19 NHL regular season and the Toronto Maple Leafs still have a giant piece of their core sitting at home without a contract. We’re of course talking about Swedish sniper William Nylander whose three year entry level contract expired on June 30th.
Reports indicate that Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and Nylander remain committed to coming to terms on a long term deal, but that the two sides have yet to agree on a dollar figure. Once they hammer out a deal, the Leafs can put all the contract talk aside and fans can get back to focusing on the team’s on ice performance, right? Well… kind of. There’s still expensive extensions on the horizon for breakout stars Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews next offseason, as well. The pair are eligible to sign deals now, but all indications are that they’ve yet to begin real negotiations with Dubas. Presumably because Nylander’s negotiations are throwing a wrench into Dubas’ master plan.
So, while there’s no indication of just how much Marner and Matthews stand to make on their next deals, NHL insider and Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman did wade into the speculation in his latest 31 Thoughts column, predicting that the number “34”, Matthews’ jersey number, will factor into his new deal somehow. Check it out:
Early-season prediction: The number “34” shows up somewhere in whatever extension Auston Matthews signs.
Interesting, if not a bit obsessive. It’s also worth noting that Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby signed a historic $8.7 million deal back in 2012. Of course, Crosby’s jersey number is 87… it’s by no coincidence that the superstitious superstar went with $8.7 on his deal. Now… would Matthews cut the Leafs a deal and sign for $3.4 million? Not a chance. His deal will likely be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10 million to $13 million annually. $10.34 million? It’s likely that Matthews’ camp will use teammate John Tavares’ $11 million annual salary as a negotiating point, but what Matthews ultimately ends up with remains to be seen. Just don’t be surprised if there’s a 34 in there somewhere.