We have some very good news to share with you if you're a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
TSN's National Hockey League insider Pierre LeBrun was recently a guest on TSN's Leafs Lunch on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto when he was asked about the ongoing talks between Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews, his representatives, and the Leafs organization. There was no question that the overall tone of LeBrun's comments was extremely positive for the Leafs getting a deal done here.
"I would say over the last couple of days I continue to hear that things are progressing. Unless there's a serious setback here in the next few weeks it certainly would not shock me if Auston Matthews is signed within the next month here."
That is obviously tremendously good news for the Maple Leafs who likely desperately want to avoid another contract hold out like the one they had to deal with when it comes to young restricted free agent William Nylander this past summer and well into the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season. Not only did Nylander miss significant time on the ice as a result of his holdout but he has been unable to regain his form after a very late start to the season and that has proved costly for both him and the Leafs' as a whole.
That being said though it sounds like Matthews, his camp, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are making good headway on a new deal, although it might not be the kind of deal that fans were hoping for. According to LeBrun it sounds like neither side is seriously looking at a max deal of 8 years at this time and instead both parties are looking for something more in the range of a 5 or 6 year deal.
"I think the term that both sides keep going back to, as far as I can tell, either 5 years or 6 years," said LeBrun. "Not to say that 8 years is completely out of the window but I think it's really going to come down to 5 or 6."
What's interesting here is that the Leafs may also want to keep the deal on a shorter term in order to keep Matthews' cap hit down, leaving more money available to build a contender around him in the immediate future.
"The 5 is intriguing because that will be the lost AAV of all 3 options, the short you go with term the lower you go in AV... That might be the appealing part in terms of trying to keep this team as competitive as possible for the next 5 years is maybe having Auston Matthews at 5 years instead of 6 or 8."
No doubt Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has had a master plan laid out long before he even entered this negotiation and no doubt he has prepared himself for just about every contingency that could come up. That being said though one has to wonder how well a deal of this nature would be viewed in 5 or 6 years if it causes a new headache for the Leafs at that point.