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Matthews not worried about contract talks with Maple Leafs

Forward entering last year of entry-level deal, excited to play with Tavares

by Dave Hogg / Correspondent

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Auston Matthews said he isn't worrying about his contract situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs.


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Matthews' entry-level contract expires at the end of the season, and his agents have begun negotiating a long-term extension with the Maple Leafs about. 

"I don't know if I'll sign a new contract before the season or not," Matthews said Sunday at the Stars & Stripes Showdown at USA Hockey Arena. "I'm not really involved with the talks. That's something being dealt with by my agents and team management.

"They've told me that it will get done when it gets done, and that's fine."

Video: Discussing the analytics of Tavares and Matthews

Whether the extension is signed before the season begins, Matthews is looking forward to playing with John Tavares, who signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with Toronto on July 1. Tavares had 84 points (37 goals, 47 assists) in 82 games last season with the New York Islanders.

"I'm very excited," Matthews said. "We've picked up a great player in [Tavares], and that makes us a much better team. He's a special player, and I'm looking forward to playing with him."

After Tavares signed, Matthews wasted no time going to work with him.

"We skated a couple times in July, and then he was gone for a while, but he's back now," he said. "I already knew from playing against him that he's a great skater and he's so skilled. Everyone in the League knows what kind of player he is.

"He gives us so much depth at center. It's going to cause a lot of matchup problems for the other teams."

This weekend, Matthews took a break from his normal offseason routine to fly to Michigan to play in the Stars & Stripes Showdown. The charity game was played in honor of longtime USA Hockey executive Jim Johansson, who died in January at the age of 53.

Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin organized the game, but it was Matthews who was selected as captain for Team White against Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane's Team Blue. 

"I didn't know I was going to be a captain until I saw the jersey in my stall today," Matthews said. "It was a lot of fun, especially with so many great players on the ice."

Matthews, playing on a line with Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise and former Maple Leafs teammate James van Riemsdyk, scored two goals in a 14-9 loss, but he wasn't worried about the final score.

"[Johansson] is the person who gave me a chance to play for USA Hockey," Matthews said. "He was always great to me and my family. That's why I'm here today, and that's why all of these other guys are here."

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