Major trade proposal sending Auston Matthews to the LA Kings

James Connelly
May 30, 2023  (3:47 PM)

A monster trade proposal has been posted that would send Auston Matthews to the LA Kings for the final year of his contract has emerged.

Major trade proposal sending Matthews to the LA Kings

It is no secret that Auston Matthews' future in Toronto is uncertain. With this, many are beginning to speculate on what a return could be for him from potential trade partners if he makes it clear he is not resigning.
On CapFriendly, this trade proposal has been getting a lot of interest about the plausibility and whether or not the Leafs should do it if Matthews wants out.

Toronto's Perspective

For a world-class player, the return should be nothing short of world-class. The Kings would be giving up a lot here but it could pay dividends for both teams.
Starting with Quinton Byfield, the 2020 2nd overall pick has yet to establish himself in the NHL like others from his draft class. Byfield bounced between the AHL and NHL last season being near point-per-game in the AHL and posting 22 points in 53 games in the NHL.
While the production is not eye-popping, Byfield has all of the tools to be a unicorn in the modern NHL. At 6'5" and 216lbs (195 CM/98KG) Byfield is one of the largest players in the NHL. He also has elite tools and has been growing into his frame to make the NHL.
While his numbers are not astronomical, he has been steadily improving. In the playoffs this season, he had 4 points in 6 games which is a better pace than what he was registering in the regular season.
While 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafrenière is largely being written off a bust, Byfield is not being written off at all because he has shown development and with elite tools, he could be point-per-game as early as next year.
Next is Gabe Vilardi. Vilardi is another case of longer development paying off. the 11th overall pick in 2017 spent most of last season in the AHL but broke out in the NHL this year with 23 goals and 41 points in 63 games. That is a 30-goal and 53-point pace. While Vilardi has solid offensive numbers, his defensive numbers are far better.
This is a model that has Vilardi's defensive game in the 99th percentile. Having him centering a player like Mitch Marner would result in the most two-way dominant duo in the NHL.
Cal Petersen is partially there to make the cap work. Considered one of the worst contracts in the league, the Leafs would need to move out Matt Murray or bury Petersen in the AHL if they wanted to do anything with him. Petersen has negative value but because of that, Toronto would be compensated with better picks.
The 2023 2nd and 2024 1st are nice adds especially considering how the Leafs have very few picks over the next couple of years. This could help them rebuild their prospect pool or they could move the picks to be more competitive than they would be with Vilardi and Byfield.

LA's Perspective

So you may be wondering why LA is giving up these assets. Well because they are getting Auston Matthews in return. The former MVP had a 40-goal and 85-point campaign in a down year plagued with injuries. If he is healthy, he is the 2nd best player in the NHL. While he has only one year left on his deal, LA is one of the rumored preferred destinations for Matthews if he were to leave.
He would have all of the benefits of playing in a big market while also being able to grab a coffee without being recognized by everybody who sees him. LA is one of the most desirable markets to play in for anybody, especially somebody who grew up in the Southwest.
LA would be able to sign Matthews to a long-term extension immediately solidifying their 1C and face of their franchise till the 2030s.

Final Verdict

Although it is a massive trade, I think Toronto would slightly be winning at the moment due to Byfield's upside but if Byfield fills out as a 60-70 point player, the edge probably goes to LA. What do you think of this mock trade? Do you give the edge to LA or Toronto?
30 MAI   |   204 ANSWERS
Major trade proposal sending Auston Matthews to the LA Kings

Who wins the trade?

Toronto7235.3 %
LA8240.2 %
Neither (fair deal)5024.5 %
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