NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.