The big news of the day saw the Leafs lock up Auston Matthews to a five-year deal that will pay him 11.634 million per season. 93 percent of that is coming in the form of lockout-proof signing bonuses. With the cap projected to move to 83 million dollars next season, Matthews new cap hit will account for 14 percent of the total space available.
Here’s a look at some of the other big-time centres who have signed monster deals and their percentage-based hit against the cap.
Connor McDavid 12.5 million 16.67%
John Tavares 11 million 13.83%
Jonathan Toews 10.5 million 15.2%
Anze Kopitar 10 million 14%
Jack Eichel 10 million 13.3%
Evgeni Malkin 9.5 million 14.8%
Sidney Crosby 8.7 million 13.5%
Looking at those comparables, Matthews eating up 14 percent of the cap seems quite the reasonable – and it is. However, those other deals were for the max years available and bought up multiple UFA seasons. The Leafs only grabbed one year of UFA-eligibility from Matthews.
Crosby and Malkin both signed five-year deals coming out of their ELCs for 8.7 million per. They both represented 17.3 percent of the cap for their respective signing years. The Pens were able to extend them for 12 and eight more years after that at 8.7 and 9.5 million respectively – all of which were UFA seasons.
Going shorter term on Matthews saved the Leafs on the overall cap hit now, but it means they’ll be negotiating with a soon-to-be 26-year-old UFA when this contract concludes.
Those pinched pennies today will be stretched thin. With a projected cap of 83 million for 2019-20, the Leafs will have 16.3 million free with just 14 players under contract. That includes RFA deals needed for Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson.
I’m no mathematician (although I do teach high-school math to students who mostly despise it), but there’s a scenario here where those three RFA’s eat up nearly all of that cap space.
Something will have to give.
Malkin missed his third straight contest and the Penguins definitely missed him as the Hurricanes blanked them 4-0 on Tuesday evening.