Auston Matthews made it clear on Wednesday.
He’s under contract for another two years, and can’t even sign an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs for another 10 months, so he’s not discussing his situation with the media this season.
That didn’t stop him from affirming how much he likes playing in Toronto, though.
“It’s just a really special place to play, obviously a lot of history here and it’s a big honour to go out every night and wear the Maple Leaf on my chest. It’s something I don’t take for granted,” Matthews said as Toronto opened training camp.
“It’s felt like home for awhile, it’s just an awesome place to play and I’ve really enjoyed my time.”
Matthews is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2024. When he does sign a new contract, whether that’s in 10 months or two years, he’s a likely candidate to become the NHL’s highest-paid player — a title that will be held by Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon in 2023-24 after he signed a lucrative extension Tuesday.
MacKinnon’s average annual value of $12.6 million will just surpass Connor McDavid’s current $12.5 million AAV.
Matthews, who’s entering the fourth year of a five-year, $58.195M contract, currently has an $11.64 AAV.
“I’m really happy for Nate … he’s obviously a pretty incredible player, I think that contract is much deserved” Matthews said. “As far as my situation, I’m not really too focused on that, it’s still a couple years away.”
The 25-year-old is coming off a 60-goal, 46-assist season in just 73 games, earning the Rocket Richard Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.