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What is Auston Matthews Worth?

This season Auston Matthews has surely had his share of the spotlight after being the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, scoring 4 goals in his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators and of course simply by playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs…He’s also very likely to be named rookie of the year in the off season and all of this combined has many people speculating what he is worth….

The MoneyPuck Perspective

MoneyPuck believes NHL players have a quantifiable value to their teams so we can value him just like anyone else in the league. For this valuation, we will be using the Moneypuck Calculator (for access click here). If you haven’t read any of our previous articles you can click here to understand how our calculator works.

The Range

If you take Auston Matthews’ performance career to date (all 82 games of it) and simply project that he will continue to play this way for the next 8 years then his value to the Leafs is ~$7 million/season. However, this probably oversimplifies things as we suspect Matthews’ role will change over time and his performance could change as well.

To make things more realistic the first thing we did was adjust Matthews’ ice time. While Matthews certainly got a fair amount of ice time last year as a rookie he didn’t quite get the ice time we expect for an elite NHL centerman. As an example John Tavares, Connor McDavid, Tyler Seguin, Anze Kopitar, and Sidney Crosby all play ~20 minutes/game. Last season Auston Matthews played about 17.5 minutes/game. That’s probably to be expected in his rookie year but we would expect to see Matthews climb up around 20 minutes/game as early as next season and that will obviously increase his value.

The other item to adjust is his scoring rates. He obviously had a great rookie year and his scoring rates show that. At even strength he scored roughly 1.5 G/60 and on the power play he was around 2.5 G/60. These are very high. They are not unprecedented but for a volume shooter like Matthews we suspect his 2016-17 shooting percentage of 14.3% is going to be above his career average. Other volume shooters like Ovechkin and Seguin have averaged 11% or 12% for their careers and we suspect Matthews will fall back a little in this department. That said, we suspect he’ll pick up more assists in the future as his rate of ~0.7 Assists/60 is very low for an elite center. He’ll also pick up more goals simply from more ice time so we don’t necessarily see him dropping in points we just suspect his mix will change a little. In line with that we would project even strength scoring rates more like 1.2 G/60 and 1.0 A/60 instead of 1.5 G/60 and 0.7 A/60 (this is more in line with Ovechkin and Seguin’s even strength rates).

On the power play Matthews’ rates seem to be what we’d expect. His 2.5 G/60 is very similar to Seguin’s and although Ovechkin is way up at 3.9 G/60, Ovechkin is an extreme outlier. Could Matthews reach Ovechkin-like levels? Certainly but our best guess would actually leave his power play rates only slightly up from the 2016-17 season to reflect his getting better with age.

Now taking all of this into consideration and running it through our tool we come up with a best guess of $8 million/season. This obviously presumes Matthews is playing ~20 mins/game and using the scoring rates above that he’s putting up nearly 80 points/year and just shy of 40 goals/season. If he beats those numbers he can begin to approach $9 million/season but we believe he will ultimately come in around $8 million.

What will he get?

As this is all at least a year premature it’s hard to say how Matthews will actually perform and what he’ll actually get paid. That said, if the cap moves up over the next two seasons, the Leafs don’t even try to bridge the contract and Auston Matthews performs as expected we would guess that his next contract will be ~$8.5 million/year (the higher cap and the tendency to overpay stars account for the extra $500K!).

Let us know your thoughts! Do you agree with our prediction? What other metrics do you think should be considered?

This article was written using the MoneyPuck calculator. Try it out for yourself!
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Password: nhl123

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What is Auston Matthews worth?

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