Often in this day in age, the public vacuum of silence is filled with speculation, and as we know, those perceptions can quickly become the narrative. The announcement today by Lou Lamoriello that the Maple Leafs had signed Auston Matthews to his three-year entry-level deal quickly put to bed any notion of an impasse between the club and its potential future superstar.
In past days, as little was being said about negotiations, some speculated that Lou’s allergy to bonuses in New Jersey was a sticking point in negotiations, and that the Leafs were playing hardball with the new face of the franchise. Earlier this week, though, @iamhockey1, a source I’ve come to trust, tweeted a deal was imminent:
Auston Matthews and
#leafs will sign entry deal this week. Lou is done playing games.
Today, Lou told media the deal was done in 10 minutes, a claim some will cast a raised eyebrow toward. But as I’ll explain, I think the delay had more to do with Leafs management figuring out how to accommodate the salary cap considerations that a bonus-laden deal like Matthews’ produces. The Jonathan Bernier-to-Anaheim deal for perhaps the most conditional draft pick in NHL history may well have been part of those calculations.
Matthews’ deal is reported to be for the maximum salary and maximum bonuses allowed — $925,000 salary, plus up to $2.8 million in bonuses which could count against the cap. I won’t get into the details, but CapFriendly.com tweeted out an excellent explanation of how it works if you want to check it out. CapFriendly reports the Leafs may have as little as $3.8 million in cap space remaining, with a handful of arbitration cases and RFA’s yet to deal with. We may yet see the Leafs make another cap-relief move, but it may or may not come before the start of the season.
It was a busy day for the Leafs as they also signed Josh Leivo to a two-year deal with a $612,500 cap hit, according to CapFriendly.com. They also unveiled plans to hang new banners at the Air Canada Centre this fall as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations.