The most looming factor of the next few months among Toronto Maple Leafs fans is undoubtedly the status of star center Auston Matthews, who becomes eligible to sign a contract extension with Toronto on July 1 and avoid hitting unrestricted free agency in 2024.
Following the departure of general manager Kyle Dubas earlier this month, speculation has arisen regarding the impact it may have on Matthews’ future with the organization. However, according to TSN’s Chris Johnston on today’s episode of Insider Trading, the discourse surrounding their relationship has been exaggerated, with lines of communication remaining open between the Leafs and Matthews’ camp regarding a potential extension.
“They’re not really making any progress at this point in time or having any firm discussions about a contract he can sign on July 1, but I don’t think introducing a new general manager at this point in time is gonna derail that,” Johnston said. While negotiations regarding a new contract have yet to gain any real momentum, Matthews’ desire to remain in Toronto aligns with the organization’s intentions, as previously reported.
It is anticipated that once a new general manager is appointed, talks will swiftly resume and progress toward securing Matthews’ future as a Leaf.
In regard to the timing of that appointment, TSN’s Darren Dreger also said that team president Brendan Shanahan could make an offer to Toronto’s desired candidate by the end of this week. With the draft quickly approaching, they’ll want to have their front office in place with enough time to prepare.
Entering the final year of his five-year, $11.64MM cap hit deal (which has a no-movement clause that kicks in July 1), Matthews has scored 188 goals and 149 assists in 269 regular-season games over the life of the contract.