NHL News: Matthews extension, Lafrenière re-signs, Elias Pettersson update, and more

Today’s NHL news follows up on the latest regarding Auston Matthews’ monstrous extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Alexis Lafrenière re-signing with the New York Rangers, the Arizona Coyotes renewing Andre Tourigny’s deal for another three seasons, and much more.

Whether you are into the latest trade buzz, signing news, and more, stick with The Daily Goal Horn.

Toronto Maple Leafs make Auston Matthews the highest-paid player in the NHL

In September 2022, the Colorado Avalanche made Nathan MacKinnon the highest-paid player in the entire league with an eight-year contract worth $100.8 million, or roughly $12.6 million yearly. As a benchmark for today’s superstars, it didn’t surprise anyone that former Hart and Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews wanted an equal or greater salary, and the Toronto Maple Leafs delivered.

On Wednesday, the team announced they agreed to an extension with their star player, paying him $53 million or $13.25 million yearly when the deal kicks in after the 2023-24 season. Realistically, Matthews will become the highest-paid player in the league, making more than reigning MVP Connor McDavid by about $750,000 and MacKinnon by $650,000. 

Currently, Matthews represents 13.9% of Toronto’s cap space, and when his new deal kicks in next season, he’ll count for roughly 15%. According to data obtained from Spotac, despite being the top-paid player in the NHL, his new deal would make him the 115th highest-paid player in the NBA, 105th in the MLB, and 89th in the NFL. 

New York Rangers extend former first-overall pick Alexis Lafrenière 

NHL young stars
Jan 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) skates against the New York Islanders during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett /POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

One of the game’s premiere restricted free agents is no longer without a contract as the New York Rangers finally extended 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafrenière. Although the top selection from his draft class has been in the NHL since his first training camp, he has yet to play to his potential, with 91 points in 216 games. 

Unfortunately, much of the Rangers fanbase remains divided on their opinion of the 21-year-old, who is about to get a new head coach for the first time in his career. Now that the left winger has a new deal worth $4.65 million ($2.325 AVV) for the next two seasons, he can focus on hockey and find a way to grow into a star under Peter Laviolette. 

Read more at Forever Blueshirts.

Edmonton Oilers appear to lock up top defenseman Evan Bouchard

Although there has yet to be an official signing announcement, and CapFriendly.com does not have the details, the Edmonton Oilers are close to extending defenseman Evan Bouchard. As a breakout defender last year on a Stanley Cup contender, Bouchard played all 82 games and collected 40 points, the third-best number of rearguards on his team. 

Coming out of the rookie contract he signed in July 2018, Bouchard has skated in 184 games and collected 89 points since being a first-round pick (10th overall) of the Oilers in 2018. Heading into the 2023-24 season, the 23-year-old looks to maintain his role on the league’s best powerplay unit and continue to grow under the mentorship of newly acquired veteran Mattias Ekholm. 

Arizona Coyotes give head coach Andre Tourigny a new contract until 2027-28

Although the future of the Arizona Coyotes continues to dominate headlines, the team knows one thing for sure: wherever they go, head coach Andre Tourigny will lead the pack. After joining the Coyotes organization in 2021, he’s guided the team to an improvement in the standings and gotten the players to buy into a system that is slowly getting results. 

Whether teaching prospects or recruiting veteran players to play in the desert, Tourigny has been instrumental in the change occurring in Arizona. Despite all the negativity in the press about new arenas and relocation, he’s focused on improving the team, and the Coyotes organization has rewarded his efforts with a three-year extension. Ultimately, with players like Jason Zucker and Logan Cooley now in the fold, Arizona will be an exciting team to watch in 2023-24. 

Elias Pettersson opens up about contract talks with Vancouver Canucks

As players wind down their offseason training programs and begin reporting to their respective teams, Elias Pettersson recently toured his hometown of Stockholm, Sweden, with Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman. Interestingly, as the Swedish star begins the final season of his three-year pact with the Vancouver Canucks, he opened up about not being in a rush to put pen on paper again. 

During his interview, Pettersson said, “I got one more year left over there. And I don’t want to rush into anything because I still don’t know myself if it’s going to be a short- or long-term (contract). It’s going to be probably my biggest contract so far. So I don’t want to stress anything.”

Although he didn’t state a desire to leave Vancouver, it is surprising that he’s taking a gamble on his future after reaching 100 points for the first time in his career. If, for some reason, he fails to duplicate the success of last year, it will be a more challenging sell to get his worth in upcoming negotiations. But, if 2022-23 was a coming-out party, the Canucks better be ready to open the checkbook and pay their young superstar, who could become their future captain someday. 

NHL and NHLPA are negotiating a World Cup-style tournament in 2025 

One of the most talked about topics in the hockey community lost a bit of the spotlight on Wednesday, with a handful of big names signing new contracts. However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly provided some insights that the NHL and the NHLPA are working towards participating in more international events, like a potential World Cup in 2025 and, of course, the 2026 Winter Olympics. 

Considering most people want to watch a best-on-best tournament with players like McDavid, Matthews, and Igor Shesterkin, yesterday’s news is a promising sign these events could occur while they are still in their prime. Although Daly pointed out that there is no timeframe for these decisions, the latest updates show that both sides are working towards a common goal and that hockey fans should be pleased with their progress. 

The Daily Goal Horn Trivia

Can you name the only Original Six franchise without a 1,000-point player? 

Wednesday’s trivia answer: Nathan MacKinnon was drafted first-overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013 and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2022.