The Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Give Morgan Rielly the RNH Contract

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 16: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place on January 16, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 16: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place on January 16, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs may be in luck if the NHL’s most recent big contract turns out to be an indication of the market.

The Edmonton Oilers signed former #1 over-all draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to an incredibly team-friendly contract extension this week, and since the Toronto Maple Leafs and Morgan Rielly are in a very similar set of circumstances, this could be a solution for them as well.

With RNH approaching 30 and making $6 million against the cap, the Oilers were in a tough spot.  How do you keep a core player who is reaching the age where he is likely to start declining, when the cap is flat and the team has many other needs?

The answer turns out to be to trade term for a lower cap hit.  The Oilers GM himself said that he didn’t want to give out an eight year deal, but that it was preferable to losing the player or overpaying him.

In the end, Nugent-Hopkins’ new deal is almost a one-million dollar pay cut per year in exchange for a max-length contract that will keep him in Edmonton for the next eight years.  The deal also includes a full No Trade Clause.

The Toronto Maple Leafs now have the perfect template for Morgan Rielly.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Morgan Rielly

Clearly the cap being flat is now impacting how much money players can make.  The idea of a star  player taking less than he is currently making in the prime of his career would have seemed ridiculous pre-pandemic.

Both Rielly and RNH are top picks (RNH from 2011, Rielly from 2012) who are due for contracts that will take them into their sunset years.  Both are key members of their teams, and both are players who were/are likely to get traded if they ask for significant raises.

Nugent-Hopkins taking  term in exchange for a pay cut gives the Leafs a perfect template for how to keep Rielly for his entire career.

Since his $5 million is a lot more in line with his current worth that RNH’s $6 million, there is no need to force him to take less money. The Leafs just need him to sign for 8 years in exchange for not taking a raise.

Signing Rielly to a $5 million cap-hit that pays him $40 million over the next eight years and includes a full NTC is a no-brainer for the Leafs, and it’s a deal Rielly would probably take, since it is extremely fair.

Trading Morgan Rielly isn’t quite as dumb as the idea of trading Mitch Marner, but it’s not exactly a good idea to move on from a player who is simultaneously one of the best defenseman and people in the entire NHL.

Next. Leafs 2021 Forward Grades. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs shoudl re-sign Morgan Rielly to the RNH contract this summer.  The Oilers made a brilliant move, and the Leafs should follow suit.