Desert Storm


Handicapping Auston Matthews’ Rookie Contract Performance Bonuses for the 2016-17 NHL Season

(Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports)

As far as an opening act goes, you’re not going to do much better than a 4-goal curtain raiser.

Auston Matthews stormed into the NHL on Wednesday night, in his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and scored more goals in the history of the game than anyone in their maiden flight.

It’s beyond safe to say, the kid from the desert (Scottsdale, AZ), did not disappoint in his first game under the big top.

Imagine being a 19-year-old playing in the NHL and getting an additional $212,500 if you reach certain statistical levels throughout the year?!

This is going to be a fun year for Auston Matthews. 

With 81 games remaining in the 2016-17 season, it’s time to assess and predict Mr. Matthews’ potential to hit his Entry Level Contract bonuses.



(Andre Ringuette/Getty)



The maximum amount payable for any single category of Individual “A” Bonuses identified below is $212,500 per season, however, a Player may not receive more than $850,000 in total aggregate Individual “A” Bonuses per season.


(i) Ice time (aggregate and/or per Game). Player must be among top six (6) forwards on the Club (minimum 42 Regular Season Games played by Player and comparison group).

Matthews had the most ice time of any Leaf forward on Wednesday night in Ottawa (17:37). After a 4-goal performance from #34 and Babcock calling the overtime loss his most enjoyable time behind the bench in his Toronto tenure, it’s an utmost certainty that Matthews will be among the top six forwards on the club in ice time this season.

Matthews will log more ice time this season than just about any forward. This may be the easiest of the bonuses for the #1 Draft Pick to obtain.


(ii) Goals: 20 Goal Minimum

After a 4-goal start, Matthews is on pace for 328 goals. He’s completed 20% of his bonus after ONE game. This is rather comical and clearly a unique case. It’s important to manage expectations here though, and not to get too carried away after a freakishly legendary night.

The young phenom will surpass 20 goals in his rookie season easily. 30 isn’t out of the question either. Predicting any more than that would be jumping to conclusions. Let’s set the realistic OVER/UNDER line at 30.5 goals. (FYI: In the past ten seasons, only 6 rookies have scored more than 30).


(iii) Assists: 35 Assist Minimum

He put up 22 assists playing for Zurich SC (Switzerland) last season in 36 games. It’s tempting to play contrarian and deviate against the algorithm that would see him pass this bonus. While it will be closer than many other categories, I think we can pencil the kid in for at least 35 apples.

If his line-mates get going on the impending success of Matthews’ jet stream, he will pass the 35 assist plateau. (This is going to be the most interesting bonus subplot to keep an eye on).  



(AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)


(iv) Points: 60 Point Minimum

After his fourth goal, in his first game in the NHL, the dude didn’t even celebrate. No arms up, no fist pump, no nothing. Like a stone cold desert ninja. That kind of body language suggests 60 points is in the cards.

It’s relatively bold, but I’ve got Matthews pegged for 67 points this season (31 goals, 36 assists). 


(v) Points Per Game: .73 Points Per Game Minimum (minimum 42 Regular Season Games played)

Without getting redundant due to the above predictions let’s just go and do some quick math…

Matthews will finish with .82 Points Per Game.



(Vancouver Courier)


(vi) Plus-Minus Rating: Among top three (3) forwards on the Club (minimum 42 Regular Season Games played by Player and comparison group).

To predict otherwise would completely dismantle my thesis.

#34 will finish at +13 on the season.


(vii) End-of-Season NHL All-Rookie Team

Boom goes the dynamite.

Yes indeed. 


Sep 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team North America center Auston Matthews (34) skates without the puck against Team Finland in the second period during preliminary round play in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

(Kevin Sousa/USA TODAY Sports)


(viii) NHL All-Star Game (selected to play or plays)

The league loves young stars and Matthews is a key chess piece. The ASG will help the game grow and gain exposure in L.A.

Welcome to Hollywood Mr. Matthews.  


(ix) NHL All-Star Game MVP   

The new format and the volatility of so many factors actually makes this prediction impossible.

No All-Star Game MVP certainty for Auston.


With only four of the above required to obtain the $850,000 in total aggregate Individual “A” Bonuses per season, Matthews is looking good for some extra pocket money in the 2017 summer.



(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)



The first type are paid by the league, not the team, and they do not ever count against the cap. They are paid out to any player on an ELC who hits one of the targets. There are two broad categories within league-paid type B awards, and they have fixed dollar amounts. The first is for finishing in the top few in voting for or winning any of the NHL trophies given out at the NHL Awards. The second is for finishing in the league top ten in simple counting stats for your position: goals, assists, points, ice time, goals against average, save percentage or wins.

The second type of B bonuses are given for any of the same set of criteria, with a few minor differences in which trophies are included, but they are paid by the team, and the amounts for each bonus are negotiated by the team and the player’s agent. They do count against the cap.


For a more comprehensive break-down of the somewhat complicated “B” bonuses, you can check out an archived FAQ concerning an ELC on CapGeek.com.

The total amount a player can receive in team-paid type B bonuses is $2 million.

Without delusions of grandeur, the safest bet for Matthews would be to win the Calder, or finish in the Top-3 of voting for the award. There is also potential for him to set the hockey world on fire and obtain a Second Team All-Star nomination. The Calder would net him a cool $212,500 ($150,00 for 2nd and $100,00 for 3rd). A Second Team All-Star nomination is worth $50,00 ($100,00 for First Team).

This would be in addition to whatever Matthews’ management team and Leaf GM Lou Lamoriello hashed out at the negotiating table for these awards and his point totals.



(Andre Ringuette/Getty)


Even after the 4-goal start, it’s difficult to pencil Matthews in for a Top-10 scoring finish. I predicted he would finish with 67 points, which would have seen him 10 points out of the Top-10 last season.

It is worth noting, that Chicago’s rookie sensation Artemi Panarin (aka the Bread Man), posted a stellar 77 rookie points last season to finish within the Top-10. His contract had a sweet sweet inclusion for that performance plateau, which saw him obtain $1.775 million in B bonuses.

The highest rookie point total in the past 10 years belongs to Evgeni Malkin who put up 85 in 2006-07. Ten years ago that was good for 18th place overall. Had Gino been a rookie last year with those numbers, he would have finished in 3rd place, tied with Sidney Crosby.


(Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photograhpy/Getty Images)

(Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photograhpy/Getty Images)


Speculation and predictions aside, the Auston Matthews era is officially here. It will be interesting and entertaining to watch the kid navigate the pro waters, while being aware of the additional money that could land in his bank account as he reaches certain bonuses.

The Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins on Saturday night in Toronto’s home opener, as the Leafs kick-off their Centennial Anniversary celebrations.

Even if Matthews only scored once in his next nine games, the kid would still be on pace for 40.

Stay tuned, as the Auston Matthews’ bonus watch continues…



(CAA Sports)

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For more on Auston Matthews check out this weeks podcast:


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