If You Think the Maple Leafs Should Trade Rielly, You’re Wrong

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Debunking the salary cap issues

When managing a team in a league that utilizes a salary cap, you need to find a way to squeeze in the best talents. That means teams may have to give up top talent to remain under the cap.

Considering the Toronto Maple Leafs have $40.5 million invested in four players, they are a team that has little wiggle room. That may force one of their many stars to put on a different sweater, or will it?

Yes, Morgan Rielly’s six-year contract paying him $5 million per season expires next year. Luckily, the salary cap should not be as much of an issue as it seems.

This offseason Kyle Dubas has only $11.8 million in cap space with impact players still to sign. That number increases to $24.9 million next offseason, and that’s if the salary cap remains the same.

With over $20 million to work with, I’m sure Dubas will be able to find a way to keep someone as valuable as Rielly on the team. That’s because the team can’t afford to lose him. It won’t be easy, but it needs to happen.

There are a couple of other notable names with expiring contracts alongside Rielly. Among them is the young defensive duo of Liljegren and Sandin, who will become restricted free agents. Add to that depth forwards in Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev and starting goaltender Jack Campbell.

You can allocate $11 million to the trio, and even then, that sounds like a lot. That leaves at least $13.9 million and the mathematical wonders of Dubas to fit under the cap.

Sandin and Liljegren don’t have enough NHL experience to cash in yet, so don’t expect them to make too much of a dent. They can combine for $7 million on short-term contracts. That leaves $6.9 million in cap space.

It’s still likely Toronto will be tight against the cap, but there is always a way to make things work. That may be by moving pieces around or by utilizing the long-term injured reserve as they did this season.

Thankfully, the Leafs have bargain contracts such as Justin Holl at $2 million and William Nylander at $6.96 million. They are crucial to maximizing the talent on the team. Those underpaid players leave room for the Leafs to retain players such as Rielly.