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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Matthews Could, and Probably Should, Make More Than McDavid on his Second Contract

Something that Oilers fans are going to have to get used to is Auston Matthews being compared to Connor McDavid. Currently, the fans base here in Edmonton doesn’t even seem to be okay with the two being mentioned in the same sentence so we’ve got a way to go before a comparison doesn’t result in 100,000 people screaming at once, “NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT THE F#$@ING LEAFS!”

Like it or not though, from where I sit the reality is simple, at some point in the not too distant future these two will be the best players in the NHL – McDavid is already there and Matthews, based on the start to the sophomore season, doesn’t look to be too far behind – which is going to make these discussions unavoidable. Gretzky/Lemieux. Crosby/Ovechkin. McDavid/Matthews. It’s going to happen and the sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be.

Personally, I don’t have much of an issue with the coverage of the Leafs, even if at times it hurts my ears to listen, burns my eyes to see. And I know there are plenty of other Oilers fans who would like a little more coverage of our team on national broadcasts and a lot less coverage of theirs, but the Toronto market is massive, approximately five times the size of Edmonton so that coverage is just providing a supply to meet the demand. And when the NHL’s future second best player plays in that market the coverage is going to be seemingly endless.

Which brings me to Darren Dreger on TSN yesterday discussing whether or not Matthews will get paid more on his second contract than McDavid signed for this past summer. The instant reaction to this from many, including a few Leafs fans, was to roll their eyes and suggest that this was about nothing more than getting those sweet, sweet clicks. After all, Matthews likely won’t match McDavid’s on-ice numbers or his trophy case after two seasons, so there is little reason this think that his second contract should be worth more. All of that might be true and it still doesn’t mean that Matthews won’t, or shouldn’t, be paid more than McDavid.

Sep 21, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team North America center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates his first period goal against Team Sweden with centre Connor McDavid (97) during preliminary round play in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

In explaining his position Dreger pointed to a rising salary cap and how by taking an equal percentage of that cap Matthews would make more than McDavid. That’s a fairly simple concept and it does make some sense but it also misses a critical factor in this discussion, and that’s the fact that McDavid, despite making $12.5M next season and for the seven years that follow, is going to be underpaid. He probably would have been underpaid had he accepted a deal for the maximum allowable under the current CBA, $15M annually, but at $2.5M below the maximum, he is absolutely underpaid.

So, much like Crosby who has chosen to leave millions on the table in Pittsburgh, McDavid’s contract isn’t a good comparable for Matthews because he chose to take less than he’s worth. Connor McDavid gave the Oilers a gift of $20M spread out over eight seasons, which he was absolutely within his rights to do, but there is no reason to expect that Matthews, or anyone else for that matter, will be that generous. The question with Matthews second contract isn’t, is Matthews better than McDavid and therefore worth more money, it’s how close to a max contract is Matthews. And the answer to that question is close.

Coming off a 40-goal rookie season Matthews hasn’t missed a beat this season. Admittedly it is still very early, but if he continues to play like he has and breaks the 40-goal mark again, or perhaps ever 50, all before turning 21, is there really a reasonable argument to be made that he’s not worth something in the range of the maximum allowable under the CBA? The argument that is most often made against these massive deals is that you can’t build a competitive team because of them. Now I don’t actually believe that to be true, but even if it is, that’s an argument that the team can’t afford to do, not that the player isn’t worth it.

I said this before McDavid’s extension and I believe the same to be true with Matthews, whatever dollar amount he wants on that second contract is the right amount. That may well mean that he gets paid more than McDavid, but it doesn’t mean that he’ll be worth more. And if by squeezing the Leafs for every penny he happens to put the Leafs in slightly a tougher spot with respect to the salary cap, well, that certainly wouldn’t break my heart.

  • Maple Mousse

    Now that would be simply Batty…

    But if it messes with the Leafs signing their other young guns and one or two break free, maybe it’d be an opportunity.

  • JimmyV1965

    Nothing would make me happier than Matthews getting the max deal. As Oiler fans, we can only hope. I’m not sure though if he will even be the second best player in the league. You can make a case for Laine and Eichel. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if Marner turns out better than Matthews.

  • Bills Bills

    There is always going to be who’s better debates. Bottom line is I don’t care about contracts. I care about cups. Hopefully the closest Toronto gets to one is when McDavid brings it home to his parents house.

  • Jordan88

    My thoughts on Matthews making 12-13 per year, who looks better in Oilers colors Nylander or Marner? Seriously Leafs are so screwed when it comes to resign time.

  • Kr55

    Matthews deserves the max IMO. Even at the max the leafs are making more money off of him than he will be taking home. Same argument Lebron made about Curry in the NBA. Owners of huge market teams should be thankful the cap limit saves them from paying elite players near what they are making the organisation in return. Matthews has every right though to try to get as much as he can knowing the leafs are still making a profit off him no matter what.

    • OriginalPouzar

      That argument would be meaningful in a non-salary cap scenario.

      How much money a player makes for ownership does not equate to value vis-a-vis other players in a cap management scenario.

  • fisherprice

    I agree that Auston Matthews should make more than McDavid. I also think they should pay Marner and Nylander $10+ million too. Actually, just give every Leafs player the max. All very good ideas.

  • btrain

    This is an interesting topic for me. One way I like to frame it up is to consider this? if Matthews was playing for Las Vegas, would that make a difference in how much he is compared to the true generational talents of the game. In my admittedly biased opinion, I would think people would be much more hesitant to make that comparison if he was wearing any other jersey. Don’t get me wrong, Matthews is an amazing talent and I fully expect him to go down as one of the best Leafs in recent memory but I don’t see any reason to reach above M. Sundin to J. Sakic range as a fair and positive comparison for Matthews. But to reach as far as Gretzky, Lemeuix, Crosby, Ovechkin, this is bias shining through from the center of the hockey world. I guess we will see where things are at in a few years but my bet is there will be more separation between McDavid over Matthews then there will be, if any separation at all, of Matthews over a guy like Jack Eichel. Yet, we never hear Jack Eichel and generational talent in the same sentence.

  • Laxbruh15

    Mcdavid’s significantly overpaid. This is his second contract and first beyond the maximum allowed rookie contract. The oiler’s leverage amounted to next to nothing. According to tarasenko’s contract and value by point, he’s worth 8.5 to 10 at five to eight years in a second contract. Essentially getting what draisatl gets. The loss in value would equate to goals essentially being worth more, since mcdavid only scored thirty compared to fourty by tarasenko his value would take a relative hit. His underlying statistics are acceptable as a first line center but not exceptional. His relative corsi is 5.3 percent, which is decent but indicates that he doesn’t contribute much in way of influencing flow of play. Kane’s cap hit’s been used to justify this contract but it can’t be. Kane’s on his third contract, mcdavid’s on his second. Something that keeps getting lost when viewing this situation. Chiarelli really screwed over the rest of the league with his blatant incompetence in managing this situation. Draisatl should be getting seven million by the same metric. To say that mcdavid’s worth it is blatantly false, two fifty point forwards with the same underlying statistics would be worth five million each per. That would equal mcdavid’s production and you would have the positive influence of two players with a five point three percent positive impact on corsi establishing flow of play instead of just one. You would also save 2.5 million to spend on third line production. Hmmm.

    • Laxbruh15

      It’s time to take off the rose colored glasse. Chiarelli essentially put you guys in chicago’s position without the benefit of having mcdavid or draisatl for six additional years.

    • geoilersgist

      I couldn’t even finish reading this. You make ZERO sense. How many times has Tarasenko won a Hart Trophy, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay? Let alone in his second season? Didn’t think so. Take off your rose colored glasses #OILERSBETTER

      • Laxbruh15

        “To say that mcdavid’s worth it is blatantly false, two fifty point forwards with the same underlying statistics would be worth five million each per. That would equal mcdavid’s production and you would have the positive influence of two players with a five point three percent positive impact on corsi establishing flow of play instead of just one. You would also save 2.5 million to spend on third line production.” I would say that section has the most value.

        • D

          @Labruh15 – two players that had approximately 50 points last season were Justin Schultz and Sam Gagner. If you prefer those two players over one Connor McDavid, that’s entirely up to you. I suspect the Oilers and most fans would disagree.

        • Mc🙏

          I think he is trying to say he would rather have JG and SM for the price of Mcdavid. But the fact that NO ONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD WOULD DO THIS, makes it the best troll comment in all nation history.

  • justDOit

    Matthews is a helluva player, and good for him. Also glad he’s in the east, and that now when the Leafs are on a national broadcast, we get to watch an exciting team.

  • D

    Matthews should be paid the max. Remember when some people in Leafs country were hoping that McDavid would take max because “he really didn’t want to be in Edmonton”?

  • Tonto

    Breaking news:
    Matthews just took a gain the dump how will this affect McDavid, the Oilers and the Leafs.
    Seriously who cares about Matthews and the Leafs. What a garbage article

  • malmn

    Stop with this nonsense. The Maple Laff propaganda has clearly got into this author’s head. Patrick Laine is better than Matthews. And McDavid is head and shoulders above either of them.