The Toronto Maple Leafs got a head start on their offseason plans by locking up two key pieces of the team’s future to a pair of six-year contract extensions.
Morgan Rielly and Nazem Kadri agreeing to six-year deals gives the Maple Leafs two below-market value contracts moving forward given the annual salary cap hit of both players. Rielly will have a cap hit of only $5 million for the next six years while Kadri’s cap hit will be only $4.5 million. It’s believed had both players not signed long term and only agreed to one or two-year deals, their annual cap hits could have risen by as much as $1.5-2 million with another strong season under their belts.
The savings in cap space could be a major benefit for Toronto in future seasons given the youth and expected development of both players. With Rielly only 22 years old and Kadri just 25, the duo are going to be completely different players at the end of these six-year deals.
In Rielly’s case, if that player is a top-pairing defenseman and power-play quarterback, then a $5 million cap hit could be one of the biggest contract steals in the salary cap era. Meanwhile, if Kadri can become a reliable 45-to-55 point scorer while bouncing between second and third line center duties, then he’ll also have a favorable contract for the Maple Leafs.
Even in the event they don’t pan out, their youth and reasonably priced contracts make both easy to trade. There would be plenty of teams willing to take a chance on a player in his mid-20s with potential to improve while making $5 million or less per season.
The Maple Leafs absolutely hit a home run with both these contracts. Not only did the club get the deals done and out of the way as soon as the offseason started, but they somehow signed young players to cap-friendly long-term contracts while managing to make six-year commitments still tradable in the event they don’t work out. What more could you possibly want?
And some still wonder why they call general manager Lou Lamoriello “the Godfather.”