Maple Leafs sign Auston Matthews to five-year extension

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According to reports, the bulk of Matthews' deal is in signing bonuses.

That eases much of the pressure on Dubas and the Leafs, as Matthews and the team's other budding superstar, Mitch Marner, were both due to become restricted National Hockey League free agents on July 1; since both players could have demanded a maximum eight-year contract in the range of US$13-million per year, the Leafs were facing a squeeze on next season's projected salary cap of US$83-million.

The Maple Leafs will hold news conference today at 4pm et to discuss Auston Matthews' new contract extension.

Like Marner, Matthews was eligible to become a restricted free agent on July 1 after their three-year rookie deals expire.

Auston Matthews is locked in. The first overall draft pick in 2016, has 97 goals and 81 assists in 182 regular-season games with the Leafs.

By contrast, some reports say that the Toronto Maple Leafs will have a hard time keeping Marner's contract under $10 million/year.

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In terms of winning a Stanley Cup, The Toronto Maple Leafs' stiffest competition for the foreseeable future will be the Tampa Bay Lightning: A cohesive team that has managed to sign each of Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos for $9.5 million or less per year.

Talks between Leafs' general manager Kyle Dubas and Matthews' agent, Judd Moldaver, started last summer with the goal of finding a satisfactory middle ground well before Matthews hit restricted free agency on July 1.

Matthews also said "of course" he wants to see all the Leafs' young players stay together, including pending RFAs Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, believing they have something special to offer as a group. He preserves his unrestricted free agent seasons, which puts him in the best position to maximize his career earnings in the end.

For that reason it shouldn't drag too long - and we can have Matthews' willingness to negotiate an equitable deal to thank for that.

Matthews, 21, has appeared in 38 games for the Maple Leafs this season and registered 23 goals and 23 assists for 46 points.

The 21-year-old Marner leads the Leafs in scoring this season with 63 points (20 goals and 43 assists).

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