Maple Leafs sign star centre Auston Matthews to four-year, $53-million extension

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed star centre Auston Matthews to a four-year deal, US$53-million contract extension.

The deal carries an average annual value of $13.5 million, which will make Matthews the league's highest-paid player beginning in 2024-25, surpassing Colorado star Nathan MacKinnon's $12.6 AAV.

Matthews has one season left on his current contract — a five-year, $58.2-million pact signed in February 2019 — that could have walked him into unrestricted free agency next summer.

The first-overall pick at the 2016 draft won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2021-22 thanks to a league-best 60 goals that also propelled him to a second consecutive Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy.

The 25-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., dipped slightly in 2022-23, but still found the back of the net 40 times as part of an 85-point campaign over 74 games.

Matthews added five goals and six assists in 11 playoff contests, helping Toronto beat Tampa Bay in six games in the opening round of the playoffs advance in the post-season for the first time since 2004.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press