Auston Matthews and John Tavares sit down with Elliotte Friedman on the eve of training camp, MLHS previews the storylines entering the exhibition season, Pierre LeBrun discusses the William Nylander contract situation, and more in the links.

Matthews’ commitment to Leafs helped sell Tavares on T.O. (Sportsnet)
In a sit down with Elliotte Friedman, Matthews and Tavares discuss the season ahead and the chance to do something in special together in Toronto.

Tavares on the role of the Leafs‘ players in selling him on Toronto:

You wonder if you’re going to fit in or if the players are going to want you to be a part of the group. For me, it was never about going somewhere and subtracting. It was always about going there to add so that we can build on what’s already been very successful. To have guys like Matty and Mitch and Patty Marleau and many others reach out and say how bad they wanted me to be here, and that we could do something special, and what a great place it is to play, and what it means to be a Maple Leaf — all of that meant a lot to me and made a big impact.

Tavares on whether he talked to Matthews about his commitment to being a Leaf for the long haul:

Absolutely. He said 100% without a doubt. I know how committed he is and how bad he wants to be here. I wanted to make sure that if I was making a change, I’m going somewhere to add, not to subtract. Hearing that was obviously great to hear.

Matthews on the captaincy question:

I think Kyle and all of the staff being patient is the right way to do it. I don’t think it really makes a difference for myself or John or whoever. We go about our business the same way and we lead by example. Deciding on someone for no reason or too quickly can obviously kind of get you into trouble sometimes. The way Kyle and the staff are handling it is probably the right way to go.

Tavares on the big expectations entering the year:

I haven’t really accomplished a whole lot in the playoffs and postseason. When I looked at everything and saw how good this young team is and how young this core is, there is the potential to be competitive for a long time and give yourself as many opportunities as you can to get to the top of the mountain and win a Stanley Cup. That’s what I looked for. That said, from being in the locker room the last few weeks, there is a sense we have a lot to prove and that nothing is going to be handed to us. There is a lot of talk and a lot of expectation, but at the end of the day, you have to go out there and prove it yourself.

LeBrun: This hasn’t been an easy negotiation for Leafs, Nylander (TSN1050)
Pierre LeBrun hopped on Leafs Lunch to discuss the contract negotiations with William Nylander.

Number one, this is Kyle Dubas’ first big contract negotiation. He obviously signed John Tavares on July 1st, but in terms of bringing back one of the young core guys and at what cost… This has not been an easy negotiation. There has been a lot of back and forth throughout the summer. I think they started pretty far apart in what they thought the number would be, as far as what I can gather. Both sides are keeping a pretty close lid on it.

The comps are pretty obvious to me. You’re looking at a deal that should pay him between $6 million and $6.5 million a year, depending on which comp you want to look at, whether it’s David Pastrnak or Nikolaj Ehlers or Sean Monahan.

Part of what the Leafs front office has sold on all of these guys — Matthews, Gardiner, Marner, of course, Nylander — is that we’re trying to keep all of you and we’re trying to make this work for a long time here and win a Cup. That means that you can’t get the ultimate number that the market would bear out. You’ve got to sort of play ball with us.

On the other hand, if you’re Nylander his agent Lewis Gross, I’m sure you’re saying, “What if we take the Leafs‘ deal and then we get traded?” You’re not allowed to get a No Trade until you’re UFA eligible. There is a lot to look at back and forth here.

Five Storylines to Follow at Leafs training camp (MLHS)
Alec breaks down five storylines set to unfold in camp: the backup goaltending situation, the bottom pair right defense spot, the final top-nine left wing spot, the power play units, and the 4C battle.

The Leaf Blueprint: Excited to Get to Work (
The latest episode of The Leaf focuses on Kyle Dubas’ story from stick boy for the Soo Greyhounds to GM of the biggest franchise in hockey.

How Tavares became the man – and player – he is today (The Athletic)
“He’s one of those guys that if you’re around him enough, you realize what the word ‘professionalism’ is,” former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “He was obviously brought up the right way – he understands values of life, he understands the importance of family and team. There’s no ‘I’ or ‘me’ in John.”

Last chance training camp for Frederik Gauthier (Sporting News)
“Last year I didn’t get a chance (to give my best effort), because I was injured all camp. I’m just going to come here, play my game and bring everything I got.”