Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews offer sheet scenario no concern

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 06: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 6, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 06: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 6, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The reported offer sheet threat is not a big deal; Auston Matthews is going to re-sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs and remain in Southern Ontario.

When looking at the young talent which will lead the way in the NHL for the next decade, Auston Matthews is one of the first names you’d mention. In fact, the only player you would put above the Toronto Maple Leafs superstar, is Connor McDavid.

Ever since Matthews scored four goals in his NHL debut, he’s made his presence felt with his superior skill level. However, is his standing as a franchise centre (player) with considerable upside, enough to warrant an offer sheet?

For context, it is an extremely rare occurrence; as per Sean O’Leary of the Score, the last player to sign one was in 2013, while the last player to sign one which wasn’t matched, was back in 2007. (Ryan O’Reilly and Dustin Penner respectively.) However, you could certainly understand why another team would be prepared to make such an offer to Matthews.

In that respect, Sportsnet‘s Chris Johnston shared some interesting speculation on Saturday night, during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. As reported by Sportsnet, Johnston said:

"“There is widespread feeling within the industry that Auston Matthews would be the rare player who would be targeted by an offer sheet…There was some thought as well that Kyle Dubas will be anxious to work on a Matthews extension after that Nylander contract. Those talks did not pick up at all this week.”More from Toronto Maple LeafsMaple Leafs Rumours: Half of NHL teams interested in Ilya MikheyevToronto Maple Leafs: How to address the goaltender positionLeafs reward Timothy Liljegren with extension after breakout seasonMaple Leafs: Jack Campbell situation becoming increasingly uncertainJason Spezza retires, joins Toronto Maple Leafs front office"

In theory, this is concerning for Leafs fans. The reality, however, is entirely different; such a scenario of another team even making an offer sheet to Matthews is extremely unlikely.

Consider the recent speculation regarding how much the 21-year-old will be looking for in his next deal. The belief is he’s going to want somewhere close to the average salary of $11 million John Tavares is getting per season.

With this in mind, it’s important to note if any offer sheet averages over $10,148,302 per season, the compensation is four first round draft picks. In addition, as per Pro Hockey Rumors, any team trying to sign a player to an offer sheet must use their own draft picks for compensation, as opposed to ones they have acquired.

Any team genuinely attempting to sign Matthews, knows they will have to offer at least $11 million to be taken seriously. However, what franchise would be prepared to mortgage the future by giving away four first round draft picks, no matter how good he is?

And even if any team does still decide to make an offer sheet to the Arizona native, he would then have to be willing to actually sign it. This seems unlikely, especially when considering an apparent conversation between him and Tavares.

The story goes that when Tavares was decided where to sign during this past offseason, he spoke to Matthews and asked him about his future plans. The young centre reassured the 28-year-old he was going to stick around in Toronto for the long-term, as he was determined to build something special with the Leafs.

As per Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star, Matthews also stressed how much he wanted Tavares to sign with the Leafs, to help build that special something. There really is little reason to believe the 2016 first overall draft pick is going to bail on the team.

One last factor/scenario to consider, is if any offer sheet from another team contained a ridiculously high salary. Even here, it’s tough to imagine it coming to anything.

Going on the assumption Matthews does want to remain in Toronto long-term, his only motivation to sign an outlandish offer sheet, is in the hope the Leafs would match it. However, doing this could screw up both his and the team’s ambitions to be a contender.

We’ve already written about the salary cap challenges facing general manager Kyle Dubas and the rest of the front office. If they had to pay Matthews an extravagant amount of money, it would severely compromise the efforts to sign their plethora of upcoming UFAs and RFAs.

In turn, the strength and structure of the Leafs would suffer. While Matthews is a generational talent, he appreciates as much as anyone that hockey is arguably the ultimate team game; weaken that team and he can say goodbye to realistically winning the Stanley Cup with the Leafs.

Overall, the media can throw out phrases such as “widespread feeling”, “anxious” and “pressure” as much as they want. However, the reality is there is next to no chance Matthews will even receive an offer sheet from another team.

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What did you take away from the report regarding Matthews potentially receiving an offer sheet? Are you at all concerned? Regardless, how confident are you in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ ability to get him re-signed in good time, i.e. before next season begins? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.