Maple Leafs sign Auston Matthews to 5-year extension

The Toronto Maple Leafs locked up their franchise centrepiece on Tuesday, signing Auston Matthews to a five-year, $58.17-million contract extension, the team announced.

The deal will carry an annual average value of $11.634 million.

Matthews is the second restricted free agent to ink a new deal this season after William Nylander came to terms on a six-year extension in December after a lengthy holdout.

When the contract kicks in during the 2019-20 season, Matthews will carry the second-highest cap hit in the NHL behind only Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, according to Cap Friendly.

Toronto has locked up one major piece ahead of what looks to be a hectic offseason for general manager Kyle Dubas. They have to lock up Mitch Marner to a long-term deal, but the star winger and his agent, Darren Ferris, have said that they will not negotiate a new contract until the offseason. On top of that, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson need new deals.

Matthews is coming off two straight 60-plus point campaigns to start his career. After playing in all 82 games in his rookie campaign, injuries limited him to just 62 games in 2017-18. He still managed to score 34 goals and 63 points on the year.

He has also missed 14 games this year with a shoulder injury after taking a hit from Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets in October.

Matthews has been an All-Star in all three of his NHL seasons. His efforts this year earned him the captaincy for the Atlantic Division team at the spectacle in San Jose. Through 38 games in 2018-19, he has 23 goals and 46 points.

The 21-year-old will also be in the conversation – with, assumedly, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly – to be the 18th captain in Maple Leafs history.

In the meantime, he’ll be heading into the year’s postseason looking to lead the team to its first series victory since 2004.

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