Matthews says he wants to keep playing for Leafs long-term
The rumours of Auston Matthews leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs for the Arizona Coyotes — or anywhere else — might have to calm down just a little bit.
Heading into the final year of a five-year contract next season that could take him to unrestricted free agency, Matthews was asked today about his future with the team.
“I really do enjoy playing here… it’s a true honour,” Matthews told reporters at the end-of-season media availability today. “My intention is to be here. I think I’ve reciprocated that before how much I enjoy playing here and what it means to me and the organization, my teammates and how much you know, I just enjoy being here.”
"I think it's important. It will all works itself out in due time."
"I really do enjoy playing here. it's a true honour."
Auston Matthews on signing with the Leafs long-term and his feelings about playing with the organization. pic.twitter.com/EMs7nShORw
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 15, 2023
Matthews originally signed a five-year deal worth $58.195 million — or $11.64 million per year — back in February 2019.
While most star players sign eight-year contracts to maximize their earning potential, Matthews appeared to leverage his superstar status to get himself back to signing another new contract in a shorter timeframe.
Matthews had 40 goals and 45 assists in 74 games for the Leafs this season. In the playoffs, Matthews had five goals and assists in 11 games, but was unable to find the back of the net in the team’s five-game loss to the Florida Panthers in the second round.
Matthews was also asked if he thinks it’s important to sign before the beginning of next season to avoid a distraction throughout the year.
“I think it’s important. It will all work itself out in due time,” Matthews added.
Matthews has spent his whole NHL career in Toronto since being drafted first overall in 2016, and has achieved a resume many players don’t accomplish over the course of their full careers.
He has 299 goals and 243 assists in 481 games for the Leafs in his career, having won both the NHL’s Hart Trophy as league MVP as well as a pair of Rocket Richard Trophies for the league’s leading goal scorer.
But while Toronto hasn’t quite had the playoff success they would’ve liked over the last, well, half-century, Matthews at least publicly seems committed to sticking around the franchise long-term to try to reverse those fortunes.
“The work that we’re putting in to continue to strive for that end result is extremely motivating,” he said.
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