“As a friend, a teammate, you name it, you want that guy on your team,” Rielly told NHL.com's Dave McCarthy on Thursday regarding Matthews. “I think he loves playing in Toronto so if he comes back, long-term deal, short-term deal, whatever it is, we'll take it. He's a great player and helped our team tremendously over the years. I've got to know him and obviously his skill level and who he is as a player is extremely high level.”
Matthews has one year remaining on a five-year, $58.1 million contract he signed back in 2019. He can sign an extension as early as Jul. 1, which is the same day his full no-move clause is triggered.
General manager Brad Treliving has already made it clear that re-signing Matthews is a top priority for the team, and that seems even more clear after the team hired one of his childhood idols Shane Doan to a front office position.
Matthews has already publicly stated that he desires a new deal before the start of the 2023-24 campaign after the team was defeated by the Florida Panthers in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In terms of head coach Sheldon Keefe, who also hasn't been confirmed to return behind the bench next year, Morgan Rielly feels the same way.
“[Sheldon] has been great. If you look at the standings the last few years since he's been in charge, we're right there. Have we had that ultimate playoff success? No, not yet. But you just keep knocking on the door, keep trying to push through,” Rielly explained, per McCarthy.
“He's been a good leader for us and you can't really deny the results. So what he's done for our group has been outstanding, just to have that opportunity to compete in the playoffs every year since he's been in charge, that's awesome and we're grateful to have him…I have extreme faith in him.”
Decisions on Matthews and Keefe should be coming sooner rather than later, and it's leaning towards both crucial pieces being back with the Leafs next year.