Maple Leafs Sign Auston Matthews to Entry Level Contract

auston matthewsThe Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Auston Matthews, the number one pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, to an entry-level contract. The team announced the signing on Thursday.

Matthews is set to earn the maximum allowed under an entry level deal, which amounts to $925,000 a season. The contract also includes a signing bonus and several performance bonuses.

The deal marks an interesting shift for general manager Lou Lamoriello, who hasn’t exactly built his career on pumping out bonuses. But in the case of Matthews, there’s a difference.

“He’s earned that,” Lamoriello said. “He was picked number one overall. He deserves the max that could be given.”

There was little by way of actual negotiation between the Maple Leafs and Matthews’ agent Pat Brisson and things wrapped up with minimal complication, which is a testament to how prepared Toronto is for their new big thing.

“This was never in question from our end of it, I don’t think from Auston’s end of it, it was just when,” Lamoriello said. “The agreement took place within 10 minutes of the first conversation Pat Brisson and I had when we talked about Auston’s contract.”

There is a lot of talk and a lot of hype about Matthews in Toronto and the maximum contract he picked up on Thursday puts him in the same league as the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, and Connor McDavid.

It may be tougher for Matthews to make an immediate impact with the Maple Leafs, however, and expectations will have to be adjusted accordingly. But he is coming off a season in the Swiss league where he averaged 1.28 points a game and was the youngest player in the league.

Matthews is set to move to Toronto in the coming weeks to prepare for training camp and the World Cup of Hockey, which commences on September 17. For the time being, he’ll remain in Arizona and soak up the last bit of normalcy before the fun begins.

“For the most part, I’ll be [in Arizona] training here and skating a couple of times per week and just spending time with my fans and family and being home as much as I can,” Matthews said. “With the World Cup of Hockey, I know we have to report in early September, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

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