There seems to be no end game here for the Leafs which makes this decision all the more confusing.
It's now July 20th, and the Toronto Maple Leafs still have yet to sign their first overall pick in the 2016 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Auston Matthews, to his entry level contract despite the fact that this would seem like a very simple deal on the surface. Most expect Matthews to get an entry level deal with a maximum signing bonus as well as the maximum performance bonus incentives attached to the deal.
It's that final sticking point, the performance bonuses, that appear to be a problem for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello who has a history of refusing to pay bonuses to rookie players. This however is obviously a unique case, a first overall pick, and now some within the NHL are questioning what exactly the Leafs are thinking.
“This one, to me, feels foolish,” an NHL source said as per The Star. “I don’t know what Lou’s reward is if he wins for the amount of risk you take by going this direction.”
Not only are the Leafs at risk of starting a relationship with one of their future stars on rocky terms, but there seems to be almost no upside here for Toronto.
“I hope Lou’s not holding his breath,” said an executive with a rival club. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Lou, but I would not be wagering the house on (the Leafs) being able to hold that line.”