Matthews agreed to a five-year, $58.17 million extension with the Leafs through the 2023/24 season.
In theory, this would reduce the average annual value of the contract because the Leafs would be purchasing fewer of Matthews' unrestricted free agency-eligible years. Next on the list will be Mitch Marner, who is yet another restricted free agent after this season and also leads the team in points at 63. Matthews and Marner appear poised to make somewhere in the range of $20 million/year between the two of them if they demand their full market value. Fellow forwards Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, defensemen Morgan Rielly, and Nikita Zaitsev, plus goaltender Frederik Andersen are now the only Maple Leafs signed through at least 2020/21.
Year 5: $7.2M SB, $750K salary. Reportedly nearly $71 million of his Toronto deal is in the form of signing bonuses.
In addition to Marner, Toronto has some more loose ends. That is not a statement to highlight a perceived moral injustice, it is simply a matter of dollars and cents.
"This may be one of the largest contracts ever given in the National Hockey League, but I can assure you it easily could have been a lot higher in value and shorter in term".
Additionally, Matthews will be the second highest paid player starting next season, right behind Connor McDavid.
Matthews was named the NHL's Rookie of the Year and named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team for 2016-2017. If Marner signs for an AAV of about US$12-million, as expected, about half the payroll will be taken up by four players.
The deal is made up for by front-loading almost $15 million in signing bonuses, and Matthews' actual salary will be more in the neighborhood of $700,000.
The divisional playoff format will likely pit the Leafs and Lightning against each other in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs or earlier on multiple occasions in future seasons.
With over $71 million locked up in 14 players, signing Mitch Marner this off-season becomes the new priority.