Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews now the next order of business

Mitch Marner Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Mitch Marner Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs brass will barely get a chance to breathe after signing William Nylander, as the focus shifts to Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, both players and management, have been making a bunch of promises to each other behind closed doors.

It was reported that while negotiations were going on between the William Nylander camp and general manager Kyle Dubas, the latter said that as long as he was part of the team, there would be no trade.

Back in July, while trying to woo free agent star John Tavares, it is also reported that Auston Matthews, when called by Tavares, said he intends to stay in Toronto and build something unseen by the city and die-hard fans since…well…I wasn’t alive to speak about it.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to take a look at what Matthews may be looking at when he signs on the dotted line. I will not speak of Mitch Marner and his expectation or what he deserves here, but it is getting to the point where you can’t talk about one player without the other being involved.

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If you were to use the analogy of Matthews being the “Ship of Eminence” that the Leafs will ride on to the promised land, then surely Marner has to be either first mate or the tugboat helping get things going in the right direction.

Now if I had to choose right now between the two, it’s Matthews. I think it always would be but, as Dubas promised us Leaf fans, they will get them all done, so, until RFA cutoff time next year, we can relax sort of.

The tough thing to do is find comparable numbers for Matthews because he is not Connor McDavid, but he is close. He is certainly a step ahead of Jack Eichel (although Eichel is starting to look really good) and has more leadership qualities than Patrik Laine, so where does he fall?

Everyone out there seems to be focused on the dollar amount. He can’t make the 12.5 million that McDavid makes? Can he?

Let us look at this avenue for a second.

If you take the percentage to the cap that McDavid signed for at the time of his contract, it comes in at 16.6 percent. He also took a light haircut to make room for Leon Draisaitl to get his payday (*cough cough* overpaid *cough cough*). The Draisaitl number is where people are saying Marner should come in.

If we take 16.6 percent of the projected cap of $83 million next year, that means a contract of approximately $13.8 million. Is that too much for Matthews to make? Tough to say.

The number being bantered about is $13 million. I would assume that if Dubas went to the table with that tomorrow morning, it would get done. However, it would tighten the Leafs’ cap room which, with no other signings as of right now, is estimated to be a shade over $23 million (yikes!) and make it so that after signing Marner, they wouldn’t be able to get much else done.

What I see is the Leafs coming to the young star with $10.5 million, or even $11 million, and stating the Brendan Shanahan hope of a “hometown discount” and go from there. I think it gets done at somewhere around $12 million.

That leaves $11 million left in the bank to spread around. Dubas is smarter at all of this than you or I, so I will take some solace in the fact that he says it can get done.

He knows he has amazing talent in Matthews and Marner and you have to get that done.

Next. Impact of proposed salary cap for 2019-20. dark

Although the ink isn’t dry on Nylander’s contract yet, and if the Leafs support cast keeps scoring the way they are, I bet he wishes there was no trade clause on that new deal.