Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander will remain long-term teammates with John Tavares on the Toronto Maple Leafs, general manager Kyle Dubas said Thursday.
Dubas, a guest on the podcast "31 Thoughts," was asked if it was possible to manage the salary cap to keep the Maple Leafs' three young forwards along with Tavares, who signed a seven-year, $77 million contract Sunday.
"We can and we will," Dubas said.
Nylander, 22, is a restricted free agent. He was third on the Maple Leafs with 61 points (20 goals, 41 assists) in 82 games last season, and had four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round.
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Marner, 21, led Toronto with 69 points (22 goals, 47 assists). Matthews, 20, was second with 63 points in 62 games, and his 34 goals were second to James van Riemsdyk's 36. Marner and Matthews became eligible for contract extensions July 1 and can become restricted free agents after the 2018-19 season.
Dubas said he there wasn't any order he wanted to get the contracts done.
"I think the easy answer is there's only one of them that doesn't have a contract for next season and that's William," he said. "These are all very important players to the Maple Leafs and to our future. Rather than rushing to get them done on the first day, if a player is going to be signing up here long term … you need to sit with them and convey to them what the vision for the team is and what they're signing up for, for the next however many years it is."
Video: John Tavares on his new deal with the Maple Leafs
Dubas, who replaced Lou Lamoriello as general manager May 11, believes a patient approach will be best.
"I always think that when a player is going to make a commitment of any length, particularly when they're signing up long term, that we need to sit with the player and make sure that the player knows where we're going as a program and what our vision and our plans are so those are discussions that I'll have with each of the individual players that are due extensions here or are due contracts for next season," he said. "It might go a little bit slower than some people would like but that would be on me to continue to be patient with it and make sure that these guys are not just signing because it's a long-term contract and it's obviously a nice pay increase for them, but they want to be here as part of the long term, they know where we're going and they're a full part of that rather than sign a deal and then a year later wonder what the vision is for the program and whether they want to be part of it.
"We'll be very patient. I wouldn't expect anything imminent … on any of the three, but we'll just start to work towards them and all three of them will be a big part of it as we move ahead."