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Lamoriello's bonus policy a factor to watch if Leafs get to pursue Vesey

Even in July, there's plenty of hockey to read about as development camps are running across North America. The story that brought quite the hmmmm to me was this one out of Toronto by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.

The Leafs, of course, have to sign No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews to his entry-level contract and he's going to certainly get his CBA-maximum of three years and $925,000 per season. But things get more interesting when pondering Matthews' bonus structure. You would think it's a slam dunk he would get all of the opportunities to bring his package up to the max of $3.775 million, but history has a big red flag in front of that point.

As Johnston points out, Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello openly loathed the bonus structure during his days in New Jersey -- and even got No. 4 overall pick Adam Larsson to somehow accept a deal without them.  Good luck getting Matthews to go along with that.

And you would imagine Lamoriello is going to need a lot of luck to get Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey to agree to that either.

The Sabres, of course, own Vesey's rights until Aug. 15 but he could then go on the open market as a free agent at that point. There's zero chance Vesey would hold out all this time from Nashville, not sign with Buffalo -- and then sign with a team that isn't going to pay him the potential bonuses he could earn. Remember, Vesey's father is a part-time Toronto scout and his brother, Nolan, was drafted by the Leafs in 2014. If Jimmy Vesey goes to free agency, the Leafs, Boston Bruins and perhaps the New York Rangers seem to be the Sabres' biggest competitors.

(Be sure to read John Vogl's comprehensive Q&A on the pursuit of Vesey here)

The Sabres gave Jack Eichel his full bonus opportunities on his entry-level deal last year. Sam Reinhart got just a shade under the max on his deal.

Everyone figures the Leafs will give in on Matthews. He's the No. 1 overall pick and the franchise savior. And it's the cost of doing business these days. It's going to be interesting to see if Lamoriello strays from his dinosaur mentality at all as the Leafs' rebuild continues. Most of the team's development camp is closed to the public. Matthews, sort of like Jack Eichel, was assigned a jersey and has to earn his number (please).

Those are same-old/same-old Lou specials, but they're minor things. Lamoriello is a lone wolf on this bonus issue and it's not minor. He is certainly going to have to change how he operates in 2016.

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