Why Would Auston Matthews Leave the Toronto Maple Leafs?

The chatter around Auston Matthews signing (or not signing) a new contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs has already reached fever-pitch.

All of this despite the fact that he remains under contract and will play for the Toronto Maple Leafs for, at the very least and barring some crazy circumstance, the next two seasons.

In that time, there is little doubt that he’ll surpass some very esteemed names in terms of his place in the team’s history; having most recently done so as the first winner of the Ted Lindsay Award in team history.

You are led to wonder just why Auston Matthews would think that the grass is greener with another NHL team; there are few cities in the world that compare with Toronto when it comes to hockey.

Toronto Maple Leafs Will Re-sign Auston Matthews

With that said, the Toronto Maple Leafs must continue to play their role in ensuring that Matthews is comfortable to be himself both on and off the ice; that he continues to be given every opportunity to be successful and in turn, you’d expect he repays the club in kind.

We’re still talking at the very least 10 months ahead of Auston being able to consider a new contract from the Toronto Maple Leafs and a lot can happen in that time.

With Kyle Dubas entering the final year of his contract and with a team that continues to break franchise records in the regular season and has now routinely flirted with a first-round series win; a lot has got to (and will) happen between now and then.

Assuming that Auston Matthews backs up his first 60-goal season with at the very least, the same if not better; he is setting himself up nicely to ask for whatever he wants from the team to remain long-term.

Very rarely does a star player drafted by an organization choose to leave when there is still plenty of runway for ongoing success. Of course, there are always exceptions and John Tavares leaving the New York Islanders will be a commonly-held example.

However for every Tavares, there is a Henrik Lundqvist, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin; all of whom had ample chance to seek bigger pay cheques elsewhere but opted to stay put, in most cases, until the final days of their NHL careers.

You have to imagine that Auston Matthews realizes he can achieve legendary status if he can see the Toronto Maple Leafs through to Stanley Cup glory.

Certainly, between that opportunity to become immortal in one of the world’s biggest hockey markets, combined with friendships with Toronto locals like Mitch Marner and dare I say, pop star Justin Bieber; there is definitely value in staying put.

Perhaps the only reason Matthews might look beyond Toronto is if he wants to become the face of hockey in the desert, what with his Arizona roots or if he wants to tap into the potential riches beyond the rink of moving to New York or Los Angeles; the latter of which would surely welcome him with his Latin American heritage.

Rewriting the record books for an Original Six team equally may hold just as much appeal – it really comes down to whether Matthews places greater value on his status as a hockey player or on building his status as a sports celebrity.

In all likelihood, the media circus will die down rapidly as the Toronto Maple Leafs look to lock him down long-term at the earliest possible opportunity even if that means paying more than Nathan MacKinnon’s now league highest $12.6 million per year.