The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenceman Morgan Rielly to an eight-year, $60 million contract extension, the team announced Friday.
Rielly, 27, has been a productive offensive defenceman. Since the start of the 2017-2018 season, he has accumulated 190 points (34 G, 156 A) in 268 games. In that time period, that ranks ninth among defencemen in points. His 0.71 points per game ranks 12th among defencemen that have played at least 100 games in that span. He has been surpassed by young stars Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, and Adam Fox.
Rielly leads the Toronto Maple Leafs in ice time this season, averaging 24:23 time on ice per game. He is a big part of this team.
While Morgan Rielly is a productive puck-moving defenceman who can accumulate points and run the power play, his defensive play has not been outstanding. In recent seasons, his isolated impacts (via hockeyviz.com) have not painted a pretty picture about what happens in the Maple Leafs zone when Rielly is on the ice.
The fifth overall pick in the 2012 Draft, Rielly has played his entire NHL career for the Maple Leafs and he is now signed through the 2029-2030 season.
Rielly is in the final year of his current contract, a deal which pays a very reasonable $5 million salary cap hit. The new deal is awfully reasonable, too. It’s the kind of deal that a player signs because they want to stay with a team. Given the kind of contracts going to defencemen this offseason, Rielly might have been able to make a case for something between $8 million and $9 million on the open market.
Dougie Hamilton signed for $9 million per season on a seven-year deal with New Jersey this summer. Alex Pietrangelo inked a seven-year, $61.6 million contract ($8.8 million cap hit) in Vegas the year before. Those would have been the targets for Morgan Rielly if he hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent next summer.
While this deal appears to be relatively team friendly, the Maple Leafs are going to have to get creative in order to manage the salary cap. They are already in a difficult spot with forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander eating up more than $40 million of an $81.5 million salary cap but add Rielly to Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie as defencemen each making at least $5 million and there will need to be some difficult decisions when building next year’s roster.
But that’s for next year. Right now, the Maple Leafs are keeping their No. 1 defenceman around for the foreseeable future.
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