Auston Matthews under fire for shocking singing bonus due July 1st

Graham Montgomery
May 22, 2024  (10:22 PM)

Toronto Maple Leafs star center Auston Matthews addressing the media after being eliminated from the playoffs
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Capfriendly recently revealed the top signing bonuses due on July first, and the list is headlined by Auston Matthews, who will be getting a check for more than 15 million dollars.

Matthews is not the only Leaf to feature prominently on the list. However, he does sit at the top, as he will be due a check for 15.925 million dollars on July 1st, before taxes of course. Fellow superstars Nathan Mackinnon, Elias Pettersson, and Matthew Tkachuk round out the top five.
Players with the highest signing bonuses next season:

1. A Matthews (TOR) - $15.925M
2. N MacKinnon (COL) - $15.725M
3. E Pettersson (VAN) - $12M
4. A Barkov (FLA) - $11M
5. M Tkachuk (FLA) - $10.25M
6. W Nylander (TOR) - $10M
7. M Zibanejad (NYR) - $9.5M
8. A Panarin (NYR) - $9M
9. N Hanifin (VGK) - $8.5M
10. A Pietrangelo (VGK) - $8M
11. M Marner (TOR) - $7.25M
12. B Hagel (TBL) - $7.18M
13. J Tavares (TOR) - $7.04M
14. J Huberdeau (CGY) - $7M
14. B Point (TBL) - $7M
14. C McDavid (EDM) - $7M
17. A Cirelli (TBL) - $6.5M
18. A Kopitar (LAK) - $6.225M
19. A Ovechkin (WSH) - $6M
19. M Sergachev (TBL) - $6M
William Nylander is 6th on the board, with a signing bonus of exactly 10 million dollars. Mitch Marner and John Tavares are 11th and 13th respectively, each due a bonus of just over 7 million dollars. Several fans had questions about the system as it is not entirely obvious why some players get huge signing bonuses and others do not.
What's the cap advantage to the team, and to the player for separating the $$$ into salary + signing bonus, vs. just all salary
For players, a signing bonus is always better than base salary because it is paid all at the same time, before the season starts. For one, this means that the player can then invest that money and have an entire year of growth in the market. Furthermore, only salary has escrow withdrawn. As a result, players are saving money by getting paid in bonuses.
I must ask because I don't know and can't find info on this. If a player's signing bonus is paid before they are traded, does that change the cap hit for the team going forward or does the cap hit stay the same but the new team doesn't have to pay that amount during the season?
However, these bonuses have no affect on the salary cap hit for these teams, even if a player is traded. The cap hit is determined by the total value of the contract, signing bonuses included, divided by the number of years. If a team trades a player after already paying him his signing bonus, all that means is that the team he is traded to will not owe the player said bonus, otherwise, they would.
Teams like the Maple Leafs can afford to hand out massive signing bonuses to their star players like this, much to the chagrin of the rest of the league. Not every team in the league has pockets as deep as the Leafs.