The Arizona Coyotes and Auston Matthews will be perpetually linked until the latter either heads back to the desert or hangs up his skates.
It has been well documented that Matthews grew up as a fan of the Coyotes, being raised in a non-traditional hockey market and developing into one of the best players in the game today.
With his entry-level contract expiring at the end of the 2018/19 season, there were plenty of rumors and debates over the likelihood of the Coyotes organization attempting to force the hand of the Toronto Maple Leafs with the dreaded offer sheet.
Unfortunately, we never got a chance to see if this situation would have played out as Matthews signed a five-year deal with the Canadian club that currently pays him $11,634,000 a season.
The length of his deal, three years shorter than the maximum permitted, has plenty of people around the league wondering if the 22-year-old superstar could one day don the famous kachina jersey he grew up supporting.
While that is still a dream for many connected with the Arizona Coyotes, it seems that the organization was willing to be proactive in making that a reality on July 1st - before Matthews broke the hearts of many in the desert.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one of the most respected hockey reporters in Canada, spoke on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, hosted by former Coyotes favorite Paul Bissonnette, this past week and he commented on the situation relating to Matthews and a potential offer sheet from general manager John Chayka.
A seven-year offer sheet for Matthews undoubtedly would’ve had the Coyotes paying the maximum allowed under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, but would have truly invigorated the fanbase had it forced the Leafs into letting their young superstar leave.
With Mitch Marner also needing a new contract, it would’ve forced the Atlantic Division team into a tough decision and could have seen the Coyotes land a franchise-altering player, one that is currently on pace for 55 goals over an 82-game season this year.
It’s not clear whether or not Matthews would’ve signed the off sheet, which would’ve forced the Coyotes to cough up four first-round picks in return, but the idea that the organization is willing to be adventurous is a positive, though unsurprising considering the consistent links between the two parties.
Chayka brought in Phil Kessel and, further down the road, Taylor Hall to try and give the team the boost it needed to compete for a playoff spot, but things could have been significantly different had a bid for Matthews played out the way fans were pining for.