Alec Brownscombe joined TSN1200 in Ottawa on Sunday to discuss the Auston Matthews extension and what he anticipates with Mitch Marner’s second contract.
You can listen to the full show here.
On the final Matthews terms and whether he was surprised by the five-year term at the $11.6 million AAV:
I wasn’t as surprised as some. People just assumed McDavid set the mark at $12.5 million and therefore Matthews would come in a million or so less over the same max eight-year term.
That overlooked a couple of things, one being that obviously, the cap is going up to 83 or 85 next year.
The other thing is that you can actually look at the McDavid contract a couple of ways. We know he took a bit of a discount … I guess both in terms of the fact that McDavid, if you actually tried to put a number on him based on what he’s done for the organization from a fan interest perspective and their on-ice impact and how heavily reliant they are on him, would probably be more in the neighborhood of $15-16-17 million.
But more to the point is that he took a discount late on in the process apparently after he saw the response to the early reports of the terms and felt he needed to take one for the team.
You can say, “If McDavid was willing to do that, why wasn’t Matthews,” but if anything, that’s a cautionary tale, not an example to follow. Leafs management and Oilers management couldn’t be more different, but the only thing worse than playing in Edmonton for eight years right now is doing it at cut-rate relative to your worth. I wouldn’t exactly say McDavid took less and it enabled the Oilers to contend.
They’re different situations, obviously, but ultimately, you can’t predict the future and Matthews didn’t owe the Leafs a discount, and I don’t think he’s being paid unfairly high. It’s not quite blank cheque territory with these guys, but you simply have to pay your superstars. You don’t screw around with it and ruin the goodwill for the next one. And, obviously, trading him or dragging this into offer sheet territory aren’t options with guys like this.
The other difference is just the internal cap reality, which is unique in what the Leafs are trying to do with all of Marner, Nylander, Tavares and Matthews on big-ticket deals up front.
[Tavares] changed the game here, there’s zero doubt about that. Matthews is signed for eight years for $13 million or whatever no problem if he’s not. But the thinking is the Leafs actually have a five or six-year window here now with greatly improved odds of winning a Cup or multiple Cups with Tavares in the fold. This is the bargain you make and it’s ultimately not one you’d ever trade in. Ultimately, this a series of problems any team would take on.
I definitely thought they’d get a better deal on just the one UFA year, but I’m not shocked by the final AAV.
You need to keep in mind how unique and special of a player this, too. He is a 6’3 centerman who scored or is scoring 40 a year on his ELC. He’s kind of in the company of one in doing that kind of stuff. I’m not saying he’s the best player in the league, but he’s not far off, and we know centers get paid and goal scorers get paid. He’s both. As far as goal scoring centers go, he’s the best in the game.
And he does it all mostly at evens, so there is no doubt to me he’s worth the money.
On the level of anxiety in the market looking forward to the Mitch Marner contract now:
I think what the agent did last week really spiked it. To me, Marner should get a new one. I don’t know what degree of tone-deafness it requires to give out interviews to — let’s just say — known controversial journalists the same day Matthews signed, but it was ridiculous.
I kind of feel for Mitch because I think he is an extremely genuine kid who just wants to play hockey and be a Leaf and it seems like no one in his corner is shutting up like they should, be it his dad or agent — who need to take a step back from the spotlight. This isn’t about you.
Word is that he still isn’t interested in negotiating in season. I’m always kind of skeptical of those claims because I think if an agent senses he can get his best deal now, he will go ahead and negotiate that on behalf of his client. The player doesn’t really know much about it anyway. With Matthews, he basically said that he wasn’t involved until his dad and agent told him the contract was ready to be signed.
I think you look at Marner’s first two ELC years — kind of 20-goal, 65ish-point seasons — and then what he’s doing this year with Tavares and likely his leverage is only going up as we approach the summer if he posts a 95-100 point season. It’s more likely the unwillingness to negotiate in season has more to do with that.
But all options are going to be on the table here ranging from bridging him to one year shy of UFA and signing him again as an RFA, doing the Matthews five years, or going the full eight. It’s just about what you can fit into your cap projection.
The one thing the Leafs can’t do is put themselves over a barrel too soon and have to start shedding cap before they’ve had a proper run of Cup-winning opportunities If they have to give him five, it’s also not ideal with all three of Nylander, Matthews, and Marner due up at the same time. If they don’t go with the bridge, I wonder if the emphasis is more on 6-7 minimum with him to avoid that timing wise. But it’s whatever they can make work, ultimately.
I can’t see anything five or more coming much under $9 million. It climbs with each UFA year bought. Eight years probably costs $10.5 million and that’s where it gets tricky. Things are very tight for next year — Kyle Dubas admitted that himself — and the Leafs don’t want to have to subtract pieces as soon as this summer with what are not exactly low-value RFAs in Johnsson and Kapanen due up.