The July 1 deadline is approaching and the Toronto Maple Leafs are working to extend two players with one year remaining on their contracts. These players, as all Maple Leafs’ fans know, are Auston Matthews and William Nylander.
From what we hear, the Maple Leafs are at different points in these negotiations. In both cases, the concepts of team loyalty and the willingness of the two players to take less money for the betterment of the club have come up.
Matthews’ Surprising Approach
There are speculations that Matthews would be willing to sign a short-term deal in the range of $12.75 million to $13.5 million annually as a favour to the club. That would leave money on the table that could be spent on other “assets.” If so, the decision would enhance the team’s chances of winning in the short.
Interestingly, Matthews’ approach is in contrast to his comments five years ago, where he dismissed the idea that players should take less for the team’s benefit. It seems Matthews has had a change of heart, prioritizing team success over maximizing his contract.
That’s good news and provides a good example of leadership on his part. We’ll see what happens on this front.
Nylander’s Contract Negotiations Might Not Be Going as Well
According to Nick Kypreos, the Maple Leafs are adopting a similar approach to the Los Angeles Kings when they recently signed Pierre-Luc Dubois. The team has offered Nylander an extension at a specific number. The strategy shows the organization’s desire to maintain financial flexibility while ensuring Nylander remains a key contributor to the team’s future success.
With the Kings, Dubois agreed to an $8.5 million per season extension, leading to a sign-and-trade deal with the Winnipeg Jets. (from “The Maple Leafs can create a bidding war for captain John Tavares. Here’s how and why they should do it, Nick Kypreos, Toronto Star, 29/06/2023).
The Balance Between Loyalty and Financial Considerations
The negotiations between Matthews and Nylander raise important questions about how much loyalty players should exhibit toward their team and how much should they prioritize their own financial interests. I like the approach by the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs have not been stingy about finances. Sure, players have a right to seek the best possible contract. However, there’s an increasing recognition that taking a smaller salary creates room for the team to build a stronger roster as it pursues a championship. Really, players can choose.
The Bottom Line
Each player – in this case Matthews or Marner – need to engage their own personal interests. Are they more loyal to the team or do they want the best possible financial contact and would be willing to play anywhere to get it? Thinking people should not blame a player for either choice.
It’s a fair question. Real people in the everyday world make that choice all the time. They move to a particular place and forego the finances of living in another place where they might earn a higher salary.
We’ll see how this works out with Matthews and Nylander. Can the team find a common ground so that Matthews might sign a short-term deal and Nylander can remain with his current team for less money than he could earn in another market?