Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman is big-game hunting.
Many fans wonder when the conservative Yzerman will turn his giant gift basket of draft picks into an impact player.
The time is now, but it won’t be easy. Yzerman has already talked to Toronto Maple Leafs president and former teammate Brandan Shanahan about what it would take for the Wings to obtain Leafs All-star forward Auston Matthews.
The message from Shanahan was stand in line. The entire league wants Matthews.
The key date is July 1. If the Leafs do not trade him by then a “no move clause’ kicks into his contract. In other words Matthews can dictate where he wants to be traded and if he wants to be traded. He could then become a free agent at the end of the 2023-2024 season.
A package for Matthews would be steep. It starts with defenseman Mo Seider, forward Dylan Larkin and multiple first and second-round draft picks. The Wings would have to convince Matthews they are on the verge of competing for a Stanley Cup.
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman said Matthews is unlikely to reach a contract extension by the July 1 deadline. However, Shanahan is willing to pay Matthews $15 million a year, which is a steep salary cap hit in the NHL.
Shanahan is willing to go that deep for two reasons. He knows Matthews is worth the money and he wants to send a poison pill to suitors who want him.
However, Matthews might not take the bait, forcing the Leafs to trade him before July.
Currently, Matthew has a base salary of $750,000 with a cap hit of $11,640,250 after obtaining a signing bonus of $7,200,000. He is worth every penny. Matthews is a rare point a game player, having amassed 542 points (299 goals and 243 assists) in 481 career games. He had 40 goals and 45 assists last season, down from his 60 goal and 46 assists campaign in 202-22.
He is 25 years old and already a six-time All-Star.
What complicates things for the Leafs is they don’t have a general manager after parting ways with Kyle Dubas.
It is a complicated situation in Toronto. We don’t know how this will turn out. But at least Steve Yzerman is testing the temperature of the room and could pounce when the time is right in securing Matthews for the Red Wings.
My question for you is are you willing to part ways with Seider and Larkin for him?
For more from the author Terry Foster, check him out on Twitter here: @terryfosterdet
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Photo Credit: © John E. Sokolowski – USA TODAY Sports