NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2023

by | Aug 24, 2023 | News, NHL | 41 comments

The Leafs sign Auston Matthews to a four-year contract extension while teammate William Nylander hopes to stay in Toronto, Canucks center Elias Pettersson is in no rush to sign an extension, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs reached an agreement with Auston Matthews on a four-year, $53 million contract extension that begins in 2024-25. The average annual value is $13.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Starting in ’24-’25, Matthews will have the highest AAV in the league, surpassing Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon ($12.6 million) and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid ($12.5 million).

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

The deal is front-loaded, paying $16.7 million in actual salary for ’24-’25, $15.2 million in 2025-26, $11.080 million in 2026-27 and $10.020 million in 2027-28. Of that $53 million total, $50 million will be paid out as signing bonuses. That means he’ll get $15.925 million of his actual salary on July 1 of the first season, $14.425 million for the second season, $10.180 million in season three and $9.120 million in the final season.

Matthews turns 26 on Sept. 17 and will be 27 when the ’24-’25 regular-season schedule begins. He’ll be 30 when his new contract expires. If he maintains his annual 40-plus goal pace, he’ll be in line for yet another lucrative deal.

Top NHL stars usually sign expensive contracts for the maximum number of years under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). That’s eight years for re-signing with their current team as a restricted free agent and seven years if they sign with a new club as an unrestricted free agent.

Matthews, however, is breaking that trend. Signing deals that are four or five years in length ensures he’ll remain among the highest-paid players during most of his career.

It also ensures that Matthews is not locked into one team for too long, especially if management decides to rebuild the roster. Had he signed an eight-year extension and the Leafs ended up rebuilding four years from now, he’d be stuck on a club with no chance of winning the Stanley Cup over the remaining term of a contract that would prove difficult to trade.

Other NHL superstars are likely taking notice. Don’t be surprised if we start seeing similar deals among the league’s current and future top players in the coming years.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, William Nylander claims there’s no other place he wants to play. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The 27-year-old winger indicated his representatives have spoken with Leafs management but doesn’t think there’s much going on right now. He’s unconcerned about the situation, adding that his focus is on getting ready for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was reported earlier this summer that negotiations between the Leafs and Nylander’s camp weren’t going well, with speculation claiming he seeks $10 million annually on his next deal.

With Mitch Marner due for a hefty raise in 2025, it’s believed the Leafs could retain Nylander for this season as a self-rental as they chase that elusive Stanley Cup and let him depart via free agency in July. Time will tell if that comes to pass.

THE PROVINCE: Elias Pettersson told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that he’s not in a rush to sign a new contract with the Vancouver Canucks. The 24-year-old center is in the final season of his three-year deal with an AAV of $7.35 million but he’ll earn $10.25 million in actual salary in 2023-24. He’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next July.

Pettersson indicated that contract discussions are on hold as he focuses on preparing for the coming season. He wants to ensure that he gets the right contract for himself, be it a short or long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report goes on to point out that the Canucks performance this season could determine the length of Pettersson’s next contract. It also noted that his camp has positioned itself well given the anticipated rise in the salary cap to over $90 million within the next two seasons.

Because Pettersson signed his current contract after the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) extending the CBA, it won’t cost the Canucks $10.25 million to qualify his rights next summer. It will instead cost them $8.82 million to do so.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Alexis Lafreniere to a two-year, $4.65 million contract. The AVV is $2.325 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise that Lafreniere agreed to a bridge contract. The 2020 first-overall pick has struggled to play up to expectations with the Rangers. Only 21, he still has plenty of time to reach his full potential and perhaps land a more lucrative deal when the new one expires as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly finalizing a two-year, $7.8 million contract for defenseman Evan Bouchard. The AAV is $3.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That deal will leave the Oilers with just over $382K in cap space for this season with 21 roster players under contract.

The puck-moving Bouchard, 23, gets a decent pay raise for now on a short-term contract. He stands to cash in down the road when the Oilers have more cap space, especially with the cap projected to rise to $92 million for 2025-26 when he’ll become an RFA with arbitration rights.

NHL.COM: As expected, the Arizona Coyotes formally announced the re-signing of head coach Andre Tourigny. He has received a three-year contract extension.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed defenseman Darren Raddysh to a two-year extension with an AAV of $975K.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Lightning also inked former Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson to a professional tryout offer.

Speaking of PTOs, the Columbus Blue Jackets have added goaltender Aaron Dell and defenseman Nicolas Meloche.

TSN: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Scott Harrington to a PTO.

NHL: The league and the NHL Players Association are working on plans to begin a rotation of international competition starting with a tournament in February 2025 and followed by tournaments every second year starting with the 2026 Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s about damn time too. The last tournament involving NHL players was the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The last Olympic participation was in 2012.


  1. AM locked at $13.25 M…. Was in the projected range …. He’ll be highest paid NHLer for two seasons (on 1/7/25 the two Connors will re-up)

    Would have liked more than 4 years…. Would have loved 8.

    That time-frame (4 years) aligns approximately with potential expansion (Houston? New captain?? Tax free state)

    WW camp won the stand off (who would sign first between him and AM , to dictate Tre’s market valuation)

    WW (well, his Dad) will now argue 8 figures

    Even at just $9 M (won’t be) . Still has Leafs at least at 51% for top 4 Fwds

    That formula just is not working

    Trade WW for D upgrade…. Leafs need to move away from 1/2 Cap plus on 4 Fwds

    • If Matthews got $13.25, what do you project Marner will ask for?

      Would trading Marner be a better option than trading Nylander? If Marner asks for $12.5 and Nylander gets $9.5 that $3M difference could go toward getting a decent player on the back end.

      Nylander has been more effective in the playoffs than Marner with less ice time.

      • Hi Daryl

        My guess was s the ask is $12 M from MM

        no one can take on his contract now…. WW is the trade option available for Tre right now

      • I see Marner expecting at least $12.25 – $12.5,
        $1 – $1.5 million less than Matthews
        I think Nylander and his agent see that as well and will not accept less than $9.5.
        If Leafs can not get Willie signed by training camp I hope they have a deal in place to trade him as this would be a major distraction and disruption to the team heading into the new season.

      • Sorry that should be $750,000 – $1 million less than Matthews for Marner.

    • Draisaitl’s is the next contract coming up and I think he will be looking at more then Matthews, probably 14 mil.

      • Hi Premiere

        I don’t think he’ll be looking at $14 M

        Certainly more than $12 M….

        If Leon got $14 M; McD gets $17 M…. Not happening

      • Pengy why wouldn’t Draisaitl want to be paid more then Mathews. Arguably,he has been the 2nd best player in the NHL the last few years.

      • Hi Premier

        Sorry if I inferred “want” when I said “looking at”

        I meant…. Where the final contract ends up

        Term for sure will br a contributor in final settlement

        Top line C (like AM) get more in general

        Leon is 2C for the most part; with power line stretches of being up with McD

        I truly believe both he and McD will re-up with Oil for a long stretch

    • Pengy and others….wow look at Matthews signing where? No not Arizona but back with Toronto! Your terrible take was dumb right out of the gate.

      One thing that should shut up guys like Dave below who can’t add but I don’t know… a headline for the signing could of easily been, The Leafs extend Matthews four more years for only $1.6m more per year.

      Now we’ll see what the other two do.

      • Hi Ron

        I’ll was thinking (and posting ) in last few months; that he just may consider Seattle… on the rise; would be made Captain; new franchise. Tax free state

        Zero (absolutely zero) chance he was going to Yotes to play in a barn for 4-5 years

        Houston Yotes (relo)… that would be a different situation

        Houston Oil Rigs (??) as an expansion team; if Leafs don’t win it all in next 4 years…. That’s also a possibility

    • Matthews stayed in Toronto to wait for a potential expansion team where the taxes are lower? That’s some logic there.

      • Hi tb

        Sorry if my post came accross as if that was his motivation for 4 year deal

        Definitely not the intent or thought of my post

        Media expected a 4 year deal…. And that’s what ended up

        I was just trying to point out that when this new contract is ending; Houston just may have an expansion team by that time

        If it was me (at that time) and if Leafs had still not won a cup; and there was a new expansion team in Houston…, it would certainly have me considering it

  2. To Lyle

    Re NHL players finally getting to play mid season on international tournaments and your response of

    “It’s about damn time too. ”

    You’re 100% damn right!!!!

    • I love international tournaments involving the best players in the world. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen the NHL’s best face off against each other in a meaningful tournament.

      • Agreed!! No offense to the Spengler Cup intended here but that’s the level that the Canada Olympic Team was the past few tournaments. I wanna see the Connors and Mackinnon and Crosby together before it’s too late!

      • Ditto Lyle

  3. No home town discount there, considering Nylander also had 40 goals this past season nobody can expect him to take 9 million now. Mathew’s getting paid that much before the season even starts is a joke, there’s not too many professions in the world where you get paid a years salary prior to even working one day. In the end, it’s the fans that pay for this, the average family will never be able to go to an nhl game.

    • Dave: Player salaries have no bearing on the cost of attending NHL games. They’re based on what each market will bear. That’s why the Toronto Maple Leafs have the highest fan cost index while nearby teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators have among the lowest.

      • I have to disagree with you Lyle. Every nickel of increase of the salary cap will be paid for by the fans via extra costs for tickets, concessions, parking, and maybe even broadcast subscriptions. Yes, each market will be different in terms of what it will bear, but rest assured that they will all increase. My Red Wings costs have increased each year for the last 5, and I don’t see that changing. I would really like to ask each and every pro sports owner and player to tell me why they need more of my money.

    • Dave. You can only blame the leafs fans for this. Want lower tickets? Collectively stop going. Stop paying those prices.

      • Chrisms

        I think in Toronto’s case it may be more of a case of businesses driving up the cost of tickets…

  4. Best line ever Bergeron Marchand and Sid wow they could play in all three zones and in any situations.

    • It’s a good line but….Gretzky, Lemieux and Goulet in ’87…..

  5. Good for Leafs fans. Matthews is making bank off of endorsement deals in Hogtown. It’s good that he left some on the table for Willy. Greedy Mitch wouldn’t have.

  6. Good points gentlemen.

  7. I have to disagree with you Lyle. Every nickel of increase of the salary cap will be paid for by the fans via extra costs for tickets, concessions, parking, and maybe even broadcast subscriptions. Yes, each market will be different in terms of what it will bear, but rest assured that they will all increase. My Red Wings costs have increased each year for the last 5, and I don’t see that changing. I would really like to ask each and every pro sports owner and player to tell me why they need more of my money.

    • Iago, what players earn has no correlation in what the team charges you to attend a game. Especially under a salary-cap system. A team can only spend to a set amount each year on salaries. There is no limit to what a team will expect you to pay for tickets, concessions and parking. As I mentioned earlier, that’s why the Toronto Maple Leafs had the highest fan cost index while nearby clubs like the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators are among the lowest.

      It’s the reason why your Red Wings costs keep increasing. Over the past three years, the Wings had one of the lowest salary-cap payrolls in the league. Last season, it was $74.4 million, well below the $82.5 million cap and the fourth-lowest in the league. In 2021-22, it was the third-lowest at $70.2 million. In 2020-21, the fourth-lowest at $73.8 million. Meanwhile, in 2022-23, the Wings charged the 10th-highest fan cost index (average price for a family of four to attend a game) at $479.40.

      As you can see, there is no correlation between what the Wings are charging you and what they’re paying their players. They’re charging what the market will bear, not because of salary demands by their players.

      • Not buying it Lyle…yes the owners make money, but do you really think that the increased costs won’t be passed on to the consumer ? That’s utopian thinking.

      • Iago, it’s not “utopian thinking.” It’s fact. This isn’t just my opinion. It’s based on research done by sports market analysts, which I’ve provided links to earlier in this thread.

        Ask yourself why, for the past three seasons, the Detroit Red Wings had one of the lowest salary-cap payrolls in the league, yet their fan cost index was among the top-10. Why do you suppose that is? Why do you suppose the Toronto Maple Leafs have the highest fan cost index in the NHL while two teams within five hours of them (Ottawa and Buffalo) were among the lowest?

        How can teams like the Leafs charge such high prices when they have cost certainty because payrolls for all teams are capped at the same number each year? Surely that would mean lower prices under a cap system, right?

        No, it’s because there is no correlation to player salaries and the cost of attending NHL games. That’s one good thing I will say about the salary cap tied to league revenues that are divided evenly between players and team owners. It explodes the myth that “greedy players” are making the game too expensive.

      • I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this one Lyle. The NHL is a business, and, in any business, increased costs are ALWAYS offset by increased revenue. That is a fact, and is as old and as constant as business itself – one that I’ve personally experienced throughout my 40+ business career.

      • Your disagreement isn’t with me, Iago, but rather the experts in the field of sports market analysis (including those I’ve linked to in this thread) who have proven there is no correlation between players salaries and the cost of attending games.

        No less an authority that Paul C. Weiler, the former sports law expert at Harvard Law School, made that point crystal clear in his 2001 book “Leveling the Playing Field: How The Law Can Make Sports Better For Fans.” I read it as part of my research leading up to my coverage of the 2004-05 NHL Lockout for Fox Sports and it was an eye-opener for me. Like you, I assumed players salaries was at least partly responsible for the rising costs of attending NHL games. After reading his book and doing more research, it was obvious that was not the case and never has been.

        As Weiler observed, “Professional athletes are the beneficiaries, but not the cause, of the increase in ticket prices. The true economic interaction between players and fans is that when ticket and other team revenues go up, this causes salaries to rise, rather than vice versa…The price of tickets is ultimately determined by the interplay of supply and demand in that consumer market.”

      • Interesting analysis by Mr. Weiler, who has an impeccable resume in the legal profession. Having said that, I would still disagree with him, and would rely more on business professionals to perform a cost/revenue analysis.

        Let me offer you the following for your consideration:

        For the 2017/2018 season, Statistica calculated that the NHL received 37% of their revenue from ticket sales, MLB 27%, NBA 22%, and the NFL 16%, and Forbes estimated that the NHL received 75% of their revenue from gate receipts and merchandise and concession sales. In addition to that, the parking garage that we must use ( for reasons I won’t get into ) is owned by Little Cesars Arena. The article also pointed out that player salaries are the top expense of NHL teams.

      • The sports market analysts that I’ve cited in the other links do this for a living, Iago. They verify Weiler’s work. Furthermore, players salaries in the NHL hockey league are tied to league revenue. They only rise when revenue rises. When it doesn’t (as in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons), the salary cap was flattened for those two years as per agreement by the league and the NHLPA. The reason behind that was if they lowered the cap to correlate with the massive decline in revenue for those two seasons, teams would’ve been forced to dump players from their rosters to become cap compliant. That would’ve been impossible for most to do since they’re on guaranteed contracts.

        And yet, the fan cost index remained high. Indeed, with the cap remaining flattened for the past two seasons, the fan cost index is higher than its ever been. So, with the salary cap only rising by $1 million for the past two seasons, it stands to reason that the FCI should’ve remained stagnant as well. And yet it hasn’t.

        Again, I ask you: how can players salaries under a tight salary cap system like the NHL’s be driving up the fan cost index when those salaries only rises when revenue does?

        Why is it that the Toronto Maple Leafs charge the highest FCI in the league while two nearby clubs in Buffalo and Ottawa charged the lowest when all three teams are under the same salary cap?

        Why is the FCI of attending Detroit Red Wings games among the highest in the league when their player payroll was among the lowest?

        The answer is obvious: teams charge what the market will bear. As Weiler observed, the reason is not because of the players’ salaries but rather by the supply and demand in each market. In other words, they charge what their market will bear.

      • Well Lyle, you seem to be stuck on defending a point that I did not attack in my original post. My comment was that each and every nickel of an increase in the salary cap will be funded by the fans in various ways, and I questioned both players and owners to defend that. I did not assign cause and effect, but pointed out that there is a correlation between salaries and ticket and concession prices, and, in my individual case, parking, which increased by 11% for the 23/24 season. In my mind, there is no question that there is. Whether the chicken or the egg came first is irrelevant. My costs will continue to increase, regardless of how cause is assigned. Businesses always find a way to increase revenue when their highest expense goes up.

        My point is that the cap increase will be funded by the fans, and, since the NHL receives the vast majority of its revenue from game day gate receipts and concession and merchandise sales, there is zero chance that those costs will not increase. My task will be to figure how (or if) I will pay for it.

        Since Mr. Weiler ( may he rest in peace ) isn’t around to theorize on cause/effect, I will leave it to you to do so using his and others research.

      • The NHL’s salary cap is the prime example of why there isn’t a correlation between players salaries and the fan cost index (which includes arena parking).

        The cap is determined not by players salaries but by the league’s annual revenue. When revenue goes up, the cap goes up. When revenue is flattened or declines, so is the salary cap. As I noted before, the players are certainly the beneficiaries but their salaries are not the driving factor in the fan cost index. It’s the supply and demand in each market.

        Not only are a team’s player payroll capped but so are individual salaries. A single player cannot earn more than 20 percent of the cap each season. In the case of your Detroit Red Wings, Dylan Larkin has the high individual cap hit on the Red Wings but it’s only around 10 percent of this season’s $83.5 million cap.

        Your increased parking fees wasn’t tied to Dylan Larkin getting an eight-year contract starting this season with an average annual value of $8.7 million. It was based on what your market is willing to pay. You never heard anyone in the Red Wings organization pinning their rising FCI on players’ salaries because it’s not.

        Again, over the past three seasons, your Red Wings twice had the fourth-lowest salary cap payroll in the league and the third lowest in another season. However, their fan cost index steadily increased. Last season, the Wings had the fourth-lowest cap payroll but the 10th highest FCI.

        Based on your premise, that shouldn’t happen. If the Wings payroll last season was among the lowest then it stands to reason that their FCI should be among the lowest as well. So why is it that it’s not? The answer is because the Wings are charging what they believe you and your fellow Wings fans will pay to attend their games.

        Another example is the Seattle Kraken. Their salary cap payroll for 2022-23 was 19th overall yet their FCI was the league’s second highest. If we go by your premise, this shouldn’t happen. The Kraken’s FCI should nearer to what they’re paying their players. So why is their FCI so high when their salary cap was so low? The answer is the Seattle market is willing to pay a high price to watch NHL hockey.

  8. Matthews banking on himself with his 4 and 5 year deals.

    I dare say his next deal when he is 30yrs old he won’t be seeking a 4 or 5 year deal he will want the max of 8yrs.

    The deal is fair, yes Matthews could’ve got more on the open market next season; he has a strategy and now if he can bring a cup to the city of Toronto; he’ll go down as the greatest leaf of all time.

  9. I agree with that Caper, other than the Leafs will not win the cup with that D and goaltenders.