The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed star centre Auston Matthews to a five-year contract extension worth $11.634 million annually, the team announced on Tuesday.
The contract makes Matthews the highest-paid player on the Maple Leafs (not to mention the NHL’s second-highest paid player) — and few would argue that he doesn’t deserve to be. But by choosing a shorter term for such an important agreement, the Leafs do maintain some control given what that annual cap hit projects to be across a full eight-year term.
Of course, this works in Matthews’ favour as well. He preserves his unrestricted free agent seasons, which puts him in the best position to maximize his career earnings in the end. He will be just short of his 27th birthday when he signs his third NHL contract, leaving him the chance to maximize his value at a time where the league’s growth is at its pinnacle.