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Auston Matthews switches agencies on cusp of contract extension

The Toronto Maple Leafs phenom follows a close ally from one elite firm to another, putting him on the same team as Connor McDavid, instead of Sidney Crosby

The player agency world got a shakeup this week as Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews switched from CAA to the Orr Group, going from one elite agency to another. The key to the move is agent Judd Moldaver, who is making the same jump.

Moldaver learned from one of the best in CAA’s Pat Brisson, who headlines the agency along with J.P. Barry and boasts a roster that includes Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares. The Orr Group draws its starpower from Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, with Rick Curran and Jeff Jackson among the prominent reps in the company. Orr’s roster of clients includes Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and the Staal brothers.

The Matthews move is significant because he is eligible to sign an extension with the Maple Leafs on July 1, in what will undoubtedly be a big-time contract.

McDavid, of course, recently signed an eight-year, $100 million extension with the Edmonton Oilers, leaving some money on the table in order to help build a competitive roster around him. Draft mate Jack Eichel signed his own eight-year extension worth $80 million in Buffalo and given the varying impacts of all three players, it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest Matthews go for an eight-year pact in the $90 million range.

The Orr Group recently went into business with Wasserman, an agency that is better known in other sports for clients such as NFL quarterback Andrew Luck and NBA star Russell Westbrook.

As for CAA, the group will still be busy with other marquee clients this summer, notably Tavares. The New York Islanders captain is set for unrestricted free agency on July 1 and though he certainly could re-sign with the Isles before then, he would be far and away the best free agent in the NHL should he decide to hit the open market.

The war to sign and keep clients in the player agent war is well-known among insiders and the elite firms aren’t afraid to go head-to-head. Just last year in fact, CAA signed Carolina Hurricanes D-man Noah Hanifin away from the Orr Group.

Moldaver appears to be the key in this latest volley. Working with Brisson, Moldaver developed a special bond early on with Matthews and his family and that clearly meant a lot to Matthews in this move. This isn’t the first time an agent has switched teams, but it will certainly make for an interesting draft in Dallas when everyone comes together.

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