Thanks to the way the salary cap has stayed flat and with speculation it won’t increase again in the near future, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kyle Dubas said in a recent interview that he believes a lot more players will be playing out their UFA seasons in the NHL. Why this is an interesting comment from Dubas’ perspective is that it might hint at how he approaches negotiations with defenseman Morgan Rielly.
Rielly will be a UFA when this season comes to a close and there’s already been a ton of chatter that the Leafs might try to move him prior to his contract expiring. With the recent buzz that the Leafs have kicked tires on P.K. Subban of the New Jersey Devils, the Rielly talked has kicked into overdrive again.
Related: Edmonton Oilers News & Notes: Un-signed Chaisson, Ennis & Yamamoto
Will the Leafs move the defenseman during a time when they need to not just make the playoffs, but move past the first round? Or, will they hold onto the player and risk losing him for nothing like they did Zach Hyman to the Edmonton Oilers? Neither is an easy decision, but if Rielly is already set on playing out the year, Dubas might not have much choice.
There are plenty of decisions to be made with the salary cap and as NHL insider and Toronto Star columnist, Chris Johnston notes, new deals for defensemen this offseason haven’t helped Dubas in his quest to secure Rielly on a new deal and at a reasonable number.
Johnston writes that Toronto and Rielly’s camp haven’t talked much about a new deal. He notes that the deals signed by Dougie Hamilton, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, and even Cale Makar have complicated matters for the Maple Leafs. He notes:
That explains in part why there’ve only been a couple of surface-level conversations between Rielly’s camp and Leafs management to this point. The CBA has permitted them to sign a deal that would take effect in July 2022 for more than six weeks now, and during that period the marketplace has evolved.
Rielly Wants To See What He’s Worth?
While Rielly might not get what these other defensemen got, there’s an argument to be made that every day he waits, defensemen like him become more valuable. At the same time, if he plays well, he ups his value in a market where the money is tight. Perhaps these new deals have shown free agents like himself that big-money contracts are out there if they play their cards right and make themselves a bigger fish in a smaller pond. If he waits, a team will likely step forward with a nice offer.
In Toronto, Rielly will have to take a team-friendly deal at best and could get low-balled. The only risk he runs by waiting is that he has a down year. Then again, even if he does, his value probably won’t drop that much.
Next: Eichel Situation Will Get Ugly If No Trade Before Sabres’ Training Camp
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September 14, 2021 at 2:58 pm
Procrastination has been the Dubas curse. He waited one year too long to negotiate the MNM deals only to have the boys have great years. Now months ago Riellybiffered a team friendly deal well before all the 9M Dmen were signed. Again Dubas procrastinated stating “he wanted to see what the market said”. Well unfortunately it was nit a good sign for the TML and now Dubas is going to try and spin it as though there is no concern here.
Double talk. Have written multiple times Dubas has made this mistake too often and he must deal with the Rielly issue before it becomes a major distraction
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