‘A real honour’: Matthews interested in new Leafs deal

ESPN News Services16 May 2023, 08:463 minute read

Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews has just one year left on his five-year, $58.17 million contract, but he expressed interest on Monday in signing an extension before the start of next season.

After his fourth consecutive season with at least 40 goals, Matthews, 25, will be able to sign an extension on July 1, when he officially enters the final season of the contract he signed in 2019.

“My intention is to be here,” Matthews said during Toronto’s late-season availability. I just like being here.

“I really enjoy playing here, and it’s a real honour.”

First overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, Matthews is a two-time recipient of the Maurice Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals in the regular season. He also won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2017, as well as the Hart Trophy, for league MVP, last season.

A California native who grew up in Arizona, Matthews had a disappointing second round as the Maple Leafs failed to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. . Matthews failed to score in the five-game loss to Florida. Panthers and finished with just two assists.

“It’s hard to win,” Matthews said Friday after the playoff game. “I think we know that better than anyone. It’s difficult.”

Matthews finished the regular season with 40 goals and 85 points in 74 games and had 542 points in 481 games in seven NHL seasons, all with Toronto. He posted five goals and 11 points in the playoffs.

Matthews said Monday that an injury had affected his shooting ability, but did not specify what it was.

Teammate William Nylander, entering the final year of his six-year, $45 million contract, would also like to stay in Toronto, he told reporters on Monday.

“I like it here,” he said. “I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Nylander, 27, had the best season of his career, finishing with 40 goals and 87 points in 82 games. He had four goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games. In eight seasons with the Maple Leafs, Nylander has 430 points (177 goals, 253 assists) in 521 career games.

Captain John Tavares and star forward Mitchell Marner, who are both under contract for two more seasons, should also remain part of the Toronto core.

“I think we had a good enough group to win the Stanley Cup, and we didn’t,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday. “It’s a missed opportunity for our group.”

Also on Monday, Kyle Dubas, Toronto’s general manager whose contract is expiring, said he won’t consider offers from other teams while the Maple Leafs build their management team this offseason.

“I definitely don’t want to go anywhere else,” Dubas said. “It will either be here or it will take time to recalibrate, to think about the seasons here. You won’t see me next week showing up anywhere else. I can’t put [my family] through it after this year.”

Information from ESPN NHL reporter Kristen Shilton and Reuters was used in this report.

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