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Matthews to Stay with the Maple Leafs; Lafreniere, Bouchard Ink 2-Year Deals

Matthews to Stay with the Maple Leafs – Former National Hockey League Most Valuable Player Auston Matthews will stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs until the 2027-28 season as he signed a four-year contract extension. The Maple Leafs US$53-million contract made him the league’s highest-paid player at US$13.25 million beginning in 2024-25. It surpassed the US$12.6-million annual salary that Nathan McKinnon receives from the Colorado Avalanche. The deal is a testament of how Toronto coveted the 25-year-old center, as the team hopes that he will lead the Maple Leafs to their first championship since 1967.

Aside from Matthews, other notable players who signed new contracts were Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard and New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafrenière. Bouchard inked a two-year, US$7.8-million deal with the Oilers and Lafrenière inked a two-year deal worth US4.65 million to play again with the Rangers. The new deals to Matthews, Bouchard and Lafrenière meant that the Maple Leafs, Oilers and Rangers are keeping their key stars who contributed in their playoff quests. More importantly, it allows the three teams to remain relevant in online betting sites.

Matthews to Stay with the Maple Leafs to 2028

In their hopes of breaking the 56-year championship drought, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed center Auston Matthews to a four-year, US$53-million extension that made him the highest-paid player in the league beginning in the 2024-25 campaign. The US$13.25-million/year extension was a testament to the 25-year-old’s body of work since he was selected as the top draft pick in 2016. The American was the top goalscorer in the 2020-21 season with 41 goals. The following season, Matthews scored a club mark of 60 goals to win the Hart Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player. Last season, the center netted 40 goals in 74 games. This was his fifth 40-goal campaign in seven NHL seasons.

Matthews, a six-time NHL All-Star, has a year left on his current deal and is tied to the Leafs through the 2027-28 season. Over 481 regular-season games, he scored 299 goals and registered 243 assists. The center helped Toronto win their first playoff series since 2004 as they defeated Tampa Bay in the first round of the NHL play-offs. In a social media post, Matthews pledged to help the team win their first title since 1967.

Bouchard Inks Two-year deal With Oilers

Defenseman Evan Bouchard will play again with the Edmonton Oilers after the 23-year-old have signed a two-year contract extension. The deal was worth US$7.8 million and his US$3.9-million annual salary will count against the salary cap each of the next two seasons. Bouchard, a restricted free agent, did not receive a contract during the late stages of the NHL offseason. The 6-foot-3 defenseman played 82 games for the Oilers last season and tallied 40 points on eight goals and 32 assists. 

In the playoffs, Bouchard had 17 points – four goals and 13 assists – in the playoffs. The points tally led all defenseman in the playoffs despite the team’s second-round exit. Bouchard is expected to lead Edmonton’s power play in the 2023-24 season that begins in October. The 2018 first-rounder became the team’s leader after the Oilers traded Tyson Barrie at the deadline. In 184 regular-season games, Bouchard produced 89 points – 23 goals and 66 assists. His new contract begins right away and will expire in the 2024-25 season.

Rangers Re-sign Lafrenière

Winger Alexis Lafrenière has re-signed to a two-year, US$4.65-million contract with the New York Rangers, ending the uncertainty of being an unsigned restricted free agent. The Rangers are expecting Lafrenière to become one of the key players who will help the team’s Stanley Cup quest. Lafrenière is coming off a good 2022-23 season where he finished with a career-high of 39 points. He has scored 100 points on 49 points and 51 assists in 243 regular-season and playoff games.

The 21-year-old winger was one of the remaining restricted free agents unsigned late in the offseason. Trevor Zegras of Anaheim and Morgan Frost of Philadelphia are two of the nine players who currently lack a contract. The Rangers reached the playoffs last season but lost in the first round to the rival New Jersey Devils. The Rangers re-signed defenseman K’Andre Miller, also a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract worth US$7.7 million.

Anticipatedly, the signings of Bouchard and Lafrenière will enhance the prospects of their respective teams in the upcoming two seasons, as the teams strive to maintain their quests for the playoffs. The Rangers and the Oilers are aiming to improve their 2022-23 performances and aspire to reach the Stanley Cup finals. The Maple Leafs, on the other hand, re-signed Matthews to a four-year extension that will keep the former MVP with the team to the 2027-28 season. Matthews’ new deal ensures Toronto of a go-to-guy that will be one of their building blocks in their mission to win their first NHL title since 1967. The 2023-24 NHL season is less than two months away and it is getting a bit interesting, especially in NHL parlay betting sites that reflect the picks for the new tournament.