NHL insider Andy Strickland has made a bold statement when it comes to Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Saying that the Maple Leafs will have no choice but to trade Matthews this summer if the superstar forward goes unsigned, he asks, “You gonna lose him for nothin’?”
Strickland started by asking, “Has anyone mentioned, by the way, that Auston Matthews is going to be traded this offseason?” He went on to argue that the dynamic center has one more season on his current deal and he believes it is inevitable that Matthews is dealt because “I don’t think he’s going to re-sign there.”
Obviously, these comments will anger Maple Leafs’ fans who are likely tired of the narrative that Matthews will leave at the first opportunity, but Strickland believes this is a real possibility unless the team goes all the way this season. When you consider that Matthews has a no-move clause that kicks in on July 1, 2023, and that’s the first date the Leafs can negotiate an extension, it creates an interesting and potentially risky dynamic between the player and the team.
What The Heck Is Strickland Talking About?
Immediate questions will surface from Maple Leafs’ fans who argue that Strickland is off his rocker, but he brings up the point because Matthews will have a ton of leverage as a pending UFA who can go virtually anywhere he wants as early as the 2024-25 season. Come July 1, he can also shoot down any trade he so chooses. He’s finishing up a contract that pays him $11.64 million per season and if the Leafs don’t win (frankly, even if they do) there’s thought Matthews might explore his options and see what teams can afford to pay him on the open market.