Elliotte Friedman believes it will be a five- or six-year second contract for Auston Matthews, Matthews is encouraged by the healthy dialogue between his agent and GM Kyle Dubas, Ryane Clowe steps down as Newfoundland Growlers head coach, and more in the Friday links.

Leafs Links

Elliotte Friedman talks Auston Matthews contract (NHL Tonight)
Elliotte Friedman joined NHL Tonight earlier this week to discuss the latest on the Auston Matthews contract talks.

I always say this can change with one phone call, but it sounds like there is definitely still work to be done. My guess and interpretation is that it probably won’t be an eight-year deal. I think it sounds like there is some understanding between Matthews and the Maple Leafs that we are probably looking at five or six years now as opposed to the full eight. Toronto won’t do four because it walks him right to UFA and it makes no sense for them to do that. They are probably looking at a five- or six-year deal. That’s my opinion on why Dubas would say that there had been some movement and progress. Now comes the hard part: What exactly is the term, and what exactly is the number?

Friedman on the latest in Carolina a month out from the trade deadline:

Ferland is probably going to be turned into something else. It doesn’t look like they’ll be able to keep him. There is a lot of interest in Ferland, so they’ll probably be able to get something in return. Hamilton is an interesting one; they’ve dangled him a little bit, but I think there are teams there that are also looking at Brett Pesce. I don’t know if Carolina wants to do that, but I do know that there are some teams looking at it. If Pesce gets traded because they have an extra right-shot D, then Hamilton probably stays.

Matthews on goal drought: You feel like you’re never going to score again (TSN1050)
Auston Matthews joined Leafs Lunch from San Jose on Friday ahead of All-Star weekend.

On whether being 21 years of age now helps him take part more fully in the festivities:

A little bit. I did what I can to enjoy it when I wasn’t 21. It’s a little bit more stress-free, I guess, when you don’t have to sneak in places and use an absolutely butchered fake ID and what not, but I think that part is nice. You’re able to enjoy yourself as you should and have a couple days off, with a little extended bye week after.

On the level of nerves about the skills competition events:

I get so nervous, honestly. You’re sitting around all day before doing whatever, and then you’ve got to hop on the ice. Luckily, I’ll probably never participate in the fastest skater competition because that one gives me the most anxiety out of any of them. I get pretty nervous beforehand, but I think once you get out there, you’re just kind of in your element and you try to get zoned in as best you can and still have fun with it.

On progress on a new contract:

The whole contract thing — it’s great there has been some good dialogue between my agent and Kyle and the Leafs. We are working to get something done, but I am in no rush. I am not really involved in those talks or anything. It’s not really something I keep my mind on at all. Once my agent calls me and says, “I think we are ready to sign, I think it’s done,” I’ll sign and that’ll be that. Until then, I focus on myself and the Toronto Maple Leafs and our next game — or I’ll be focused on this next game after the break. That’s the kind of stuff that you try not to stress out over.

On breaking his goal-scoring slump vs. Washington before the All-Star break:

It’s a great feeling. It’s kind of a weight off the shoulders for myself personally to score a goal and head into the break a bit more relaxed. You’re not thinking about when the next game is so I can try to score or whatever. For the team, to get a big win against a good team heading into the break, I think everyone can kind of relax and get their minds off of hockey. We finished strong in that last game. Everyone can just not think about all of the commotion that goes around the team when you’re not playing well or not playing well individually. You can get your mind off of it and re-energize yourself and get ready for the last half of the season.

Justin Faulk the most realistic RHD target at the trade deadline? (MLHS)
Kevin Papetti argues that Faulk is the most affordable, available option as a right-side stopgap for the next two seasons.

Grading all 31 NHL teams at the All-Star break (The Athletic)
Scott Burnside gives the Leafs a B+ at the break: “They’d likely be an ‘A’ squad had they not gone flat in the days leading up to the All-Star break. William Nylander struggled after missing the first quarter of the season waiting for a new contract, and Auston Matthews had his own ups and downs when it comes to production. Still, the Leafs are a deep, dynamic offensive team led by John Tavares and, with strong goaltending provided by Frederik Andersen, are headed to the postseason for the third straight season. Now they need to prove they can hang with the big boys by winning a round or two.”

Maple Leafs’ ECHL coach Ryane Clowe exits (Toronto Sun)
Unfortunate news here about Clowe’s continued battle with the ill-effects of concussions suffered during his playing days. He’ll reportedly continue to remain with the Leafs organization in another capacity.

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