Will Morgan Rielly be the next defenseman to break the bank?

Published August 27, 2021 at 7:47 PM

In the last few weeks, several star defensemen have signed huge contract extensions with either their old team or a new one. The Cale Makar, Zach Werenski, Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton of this world all received salaries of $9 million or more, and these contracts will likely serve as a example for the next big defensive names to sign a new deal.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly is one of the next candidates for such a contract, as the 2021-22 season will be the final year of a six-year, $30 million deal for him. TSN analyst Adam Proteau believes that Morgan Rielly has what it takes to compete with the other names mentioned above, which is not necessarily good news for the Leafs...

Morgan Rielly, 27, has been playing defense on the Maple Leafs' blue line for years, and is definitely one of the league's elite offensive defensemen. Rielly had 35 points, including five goals, in 55 games last season, while his best year of his career came during the 2018-19 campaign, when he had personal bests of 20 goals, 52 assists and 72 points. Those performances make him one of the best bargains across the NHL in recent years, so it's time that he gets a salary to match his talent.

This could be quite a problem for the Maple Leafs and their general manager Kyle Dubas, however, as salary cap compliance has been a constant problem in Toronto for the past few years. With three players already earning $10 million or more a year, it would be very surprising if Dubas would sign a fourth player with such a large salary.

In short, although everything will depend on Rielly's performance during the next campaign, the Morgan Rielly file could be a real headache for the Leafs, who will certainly have to move quickly if they don't want their star defenseman to go see if the grass is greener elsewhere...
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