The Maple Leafs wrapped up an important piece of the team's future on Tuesday announcing a five-year, $58.17 million contract extension through 2023-24 for pending restricted free agent Auston Matthews.
That eases much of the pressure on Dubas and the Leafs, as Matthews and the team's other budding superstar, Mitch Marner, were both due to become restricted National Hockey League free agents on July 1; since both players could have demanded a maximum eight-year contract in the range of US$13-million per year, the Leafs were facing a squeeze on next season's projected salary cap of US$83-million.
Some have speculated that the potential extension for Auston Matthews has been shortened from 8 years to 5-6 years, sparking the recent progress in contract negotiations.
According to reports, the bulk of Matthews' deal is in signing bonuses.
In a similar fashion, if Matthews matches Connor Mcdavid's 8-year $100 million contract ($12.5 million annually), he will have rightly earned it.
"From the TOR perspective, this AM34 deal makes sense on the following levels: - Using the model of how PIT and CHI did things, and TOR aspires to follow in their footsteps, they have two franchise centres in John Tavares and Auston Matthews for the next six playoff runs".
On the downside, the Leafs will have US$29.6-million tied up in Matthews, Tavares and William Nylander next season. Since Matthews was drafted first overall in 2016, only Alex Ovechkin has scored more goals per game among players who have played at least 50 games.
Of course, this works in Matthews' favour as well. Forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson are eligible to become restricted free agents while defenceman Jake Gardiner is headed towards unrestricted free agency.
Matthews has recorded 23 goals and 23 assists for 46 points in 38 games this season. Marner's representatives have said they don't intend to negotiate a new contract during the season.
In addition to Marner, Toronto has some more loose ends.
The 21-year-old Marner leads the Leafs in scoring this season with 63 points (20 goals and 43 assists).