When Auston Matthews signed his new four-year extension with the Maple Leafs many people wondered if players were going to start following his line of thinking and try to max out again on the next contract.
When Matthews did it the first time coming out of his entry-level deal only signing a five-year it was unprecedented. Most players and teams lock up their young stars for eight years coming out of entry-level. But Matthews was a different cat.
Again, nobody foresaw the pandemic and stagnant cap, but still, players never took mid-range deals. Not in this new NHL. And many wondered then if players were going to be following suit. Take less term to max out again. However, most players wanted to be locked up long-term and sign those eight years.
But now we could be seeing the first player truly follow in the footsteps of Auston Matthews. Last week, it was reported that the Buffalo Sabres and defenceman Rasmus Dahlin were close to an extension.
The original report had the Sabres offering Dahlin an eight-year contract extension at $10.5 million. This came from Andrew Peters from the After the Whistle Podcast.
Now Peters is reporting that Dahlin wants a five-year deal while the Sabres want an eight-year deal and Dahlin is upset that the deal is not done yet.
Apparently Rasmus Dahlin wants a 5yr deal and Sabres holding strong at 8.
he’s not happy it’s not done.
So I’ve been told.
— Andrew Peters (@TheInstigator76) September 14, 2023
As David Alter of The Hockey News and Sports Illustrated noted on the Full Press NHL Podcast, players may start following in Matthews’s footsteps but a lot will be determined by their situation and if the salary cap goes up.
“I think it’s gonna depend on how much more the cap goes up. I really do think so. And just the vibe around and teams like, I think there is a player’s responsibility for the top guys to get the most money there. But if they’re part of something, and they feel like they want a certain situation to kind of stick for a while.
Then maybe they take a bit of a haircut or a little bit less, but it all depends on the confidence in that player and their ability to make bank, Austin Matthews specifically made so much in that second deal that you know you can do these kinds of things.
But I do think it’s all gonna be the economics of the League. If the cap starts going up like 10% per year, then there are gonna be teams and players being like, Hey, you have. You have money to pay me more. And you can make this other stuff work.”
If you look the Sabres have started negotiations with not only Dahlin, but Owen Power as well according to Pierre LeBrun and Michael Russo of the Athletic. They spoke with Kevyn Adams, Sabres GM, and he wants to get out in front of these situations. Get the most value for players who are only going to get better.
But if you look at Matthews and his new deal that kicks in next year, when it is over, he will be 30 years old. If Dahlin only signs a five-year deal, he will be 28 years old, still in his prime and get hit it big once again. An eight-year deal would bring him to 31 years old. No chance to maximize his value again.
If Dahlin ends up signing just for five years this could be the first of many dominos to fall following the Matthews playbook.