Auston Matthews signs contract extension
(Photo Credit: @MapleLeafs/ Twitter)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced a four-year, $53 million contract extension for six-time All-Star Auston Matthews, making him the highest-paid player in the NHL by average annual salary. The new deal will keep Matthews with the Maple Leafs through the 2027-28 season.

Matthews, 25, was entering the final season of his five-year, $58.2 million contract signed in February 2019. With the new extension, Matthews will earn an average annual salary of $13.25 million, surpassing Nathan MacKinnon’s $12.6 million average with the Colorado Avalanche.

The star center has been a dominant force for the Maple Leafs since being drafted first overall in 2016. He is a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, awarded to the NHL’s leading goal scorer, and has amassed 542 points in 481 regular-season games throughout his career.

Matthews’ previous contract included a $54.5 million signing bonus and a guaranteed $58,201,250. In the 2023-24 season, he will earn a base salary of $750,000 and a signing bonus of $7.2 million.

The Maple Leafs have also been investing in other key players, such as right-winger William Nylander, who was selected eighth overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Nylander has become an NHL regular, scoring an NHL career-high 31 goals and finishing with 59 points in 68 games during the 2019-20 season.

Regarding Matthews’ signing, analysts argue that the $13.25 million annual salary is cost-effective for Toronto and that Matthews is still underpaid. The contract is considered more player-friendly, with half the term of his previous deal.

With Matthews now the highest-paid player in the league, the Maple Leafs will look to capitalize on his talent and build a team capable of competing for the Stanley Cup.

In a message to fans on social media, Matthews expressed his gratitude and determination: “I feel fortunate to continue this journey as a Maple Leaf in front of the best fans in hockey! I will do everything I can to help get us to the top of the mountain. GLG! LeafsForever.”

Born in San Ramon, California, Matthews and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, when he was an infant. He developed a particular interest in hockey after watching the local Phoenix Coyotes play. Matthews played for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League prior to being drafted into the NHL.

The future of the Leafs’ best player dominated social media and talk radio after their season ended. With Auston Matthews’ new contract, the team and fans can finally exhale and look forward to the continued success of the Maple Leafs with their star player leading the way.