Wayne Gretzky delivers tough reality to Maple Leafs stars

They may not like The Great One's advice.



It's going to be a monumental decision coming up for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving, who must navigate through two contract negotiations for a pair of the biggest stars in recent team history. 

Both Auston Matthews and William Nylander are up for new deals when their current contracts expire next summer, and as of right now, the Leafs don't have any extra cap space with which to work. Nylander has already appeared to indicate that he's unwilling to take a discount in order remain in town, while all other indications point to Matthews not wanting to take a long-term deal. 

If you ask Wayne Gretzky, both Matthews and Nylander will need to accept a lower AAV than their market value if they want to keep the band together and compete for a Stanley Cup title with the Maple Leafs.

Here's what Gretzky had to say while appearing on the Leafs Morning Take podcast: 

"Well, listen - there's only so much money to go around, right? That's where Brad Treliving has to sit down and figure out with his coaching staff, 'how does everybody fit in here?'. Obviously, you don't want to lose Auston Matthews. He's one of the top 3 or 4 players in the National Hockey League... I don't know what Brad's plan is, but obviously, you want to get one of the elite players ever to play the game re-signed.

In the old days, you just kept everybody, right? And you look at LA, they won two Stanley Cups. They had to rebuild because of the salary cap... Chicago won 3 Cups and basically had to tear down the organization, and now they're rebuilding.

I hope that players make as much money as they can. I hope they earn all the money that they make, but let's be honest; Connor [McDavid] is probably signed to a discount now. Auston [Matthews] is probably going to sign for a little bit of a discount because, at the end of the day, after you've played 7 or 8 years, it's no fun being knocked out in the 1st round or 2nd round.

Unfortunately for guys like Connor [McDavid] and Auston [Matthews] and Nathan MacKinnon - you've gotta leave some money in the pot because you need some teammates to be able to win a Stanley Cup, right?

It comes down to personal choice. Do I take all the money I can and basically maybe get knocked out in the 1st round? Or do I take a little bit less and show the team and show the organization that I want to win a Stanley Cup? - Wayne Gretzky on the idea of Auston Matthews and other star players needing to take less to help the team win."

Are the Leafs players who are up massive new contracts going to take Gretzky's advice of accepting less money to give their teams a better chance to add more talent? 

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