Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews is ready for the season to begin and though he’s avoided distractions, he was inevitably asked about all the noise surrounding his teammates and dear friends.
By now, you’ve probably heard Mitch Marner - along with a host of other stars across the league - remains unsigned, and Matthews was asked on Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid whether he’s surprised that the star winger has yet to be locked up by the Leafs yet.
“I don't know. I'm not really sure how to answer that,” Matthews said. “I'm not really a part of those kind of conversations, I guess it's really none of my business. Obviously he's a big part of our team and you hope to see him as soon as possible. Obviously, the situation with (William Nylander) last year was kind of tough on everybody, I guess and it's not really a road you want to see another guy go down because it's hard mentally and physically.
“You're hoping that something gets done here soon and obviously you want him here as soon as possible.”
Matthews and Marner maintain a strong friendship off the ice and their discussions this summer haven’t been focused on hockey.
“I think you just leave him be. We’ve talked a bit throughout the summer and as of late, but nothing really about hockey or his contract,” Matthews said to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “He’s going through his process with his team and obviously everybody’s hoping for the best. We’d love to have him back in Toronto in training camp or back with the team as soon as possible.”
Matthews signed a five-year, $58.2M contract in February, remaining as the driving force behind the Maple Leafs’ championship ambitions, and though he defended Marner and Nylander against the notion that their contract standoffs were detrimental to the team, he’s relieved that he doesn’t have to worry about his own.
“I’m happy that I kind of got it over with and I can just focus on hockey and focus on this season and not really have anything on my mind,” Matthews said. “I could go into my summer and not really worry about ‘What’s the deal with my contract? What’s my status? Am I going to be at training camp or am I going to miss part of the season?’
“Everybody’s in their own situations and it’s really none of my business. With myself, I know I’m happy that everything got kind of taken care of and I can just focus on hockey.”
Matthews will once again enter the year as the Maple Leafs’ best player and faces the pressure that comes with that label. For the time being, he’ll have to do it without the team’s best winger and his dear friend.
More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports