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How Maple Leafs Might Approach Morgan Rielly Extension

Is there a way to make the drop in NHL revenues work in the favor of a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs who have Morgan Rielly’s deal coming up?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are probably already pacing when it comes to the costs associated to keeping Morgan Rielly in a Maple Leafs uniform. According to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox,  an extension will mean big money gone and in not too distant a time, considering the defenseman’s current deal expires in 2022.

Fox suggests knowing what Rielly will be paid means looking around the league for a good comparison. That starts with Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s eight-year, $66-million deal. There are other deals on the horizon as the Boston Bruins and blueliner Torey Krug try to work out an extension, and of course, there is what happens in St. Louis with Alex Pietrangelo.

But, there may be something else the Maple Leafs can do when it comes to Rielly and a lot of it depends on his mentality when it comes to signing sooner than later.

While most teams are holding off on signing big deals and in the face of an uncertain salary cap. The Maple Leafs might have a way to turn Rielly negotiations in their favor.

There are players out there that like the idea of long-term security now. Taylor Hall is good example. He’s noted that his desire is to sign a long-term deal with a club this summer, even if it means taking less money as teams try to navigate falling revenues due to COVID-19. Hall probably isn’t the only player thinking this way.

Banking on Rielly’s Desire For Immediate Long-Term Solution

What if Rielly likes Toronto? What if he wants to stay? What if he’s willing to make sure he knows his future sooner than later?

If the Maple Leafs can sell Rielly on being part of the franchise, but in a time players know that money isn’t as accessible as it would normally be, this could be a win/win. Yes, Rielly would take less if he signs earlier and while funds are tight, but he’d possibly get a longer deal and not have to worry about his future. There’s also the bonus of signing a deal before another major injury occurs.

For the Leafs, they get the chance to sign a player at discount prices before revenues pop back up and the salary cap corrects itself.

Rielly is going to get paid regardless. And no, we’re not talking about millions upon millions of dollars in savings. But, in Toronto, every penny counts. In free agency, where another strong season likely means Rielly is a shoe-in to make $9 million-plus per season, could eight times $7.5 or $8 work? Hard to know unless the question is asked.

And, if Rielly says yes, as we’ve seen by the recent Mikko Lehtonen signing, the Maple Leafs can potentially do a lot with a million dollars.

Related: Who Made TSN’s Toronto Maple Leafs All-Time Maple Leafs Team?

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