The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that rookie defenseman Morgan Rielly will be staying with the team beyond his first 9 games, burning the first year on his entry-level deal. Questions regarding Rielly’s status have been percolating for weeks, but with his recent play he all but guaranteed his near future with the team.
While the Leafs have committed to burning the first year on Rielly’s entry-level deal, they have not committed to anything beyond that.
Carlyle says this doesn’t guarantee Rielly will stick with team whole year
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 24, 2013
The next number to watch for Rielly is 39 games. If a player surpasses that mark, it puts him a year closer to unrestricted free agency. As displayed with the Cody Franson and Nazem Kadri negotiations this past offseason, the negotiation leverage of a player remaining a RFA as long as possible is huge. If he plays 40+ games this season, Rielly will be a UFA at the age of 26, which given his career trajectory could mean $$.
With Paul Ranger still struggling to adjust back to the NHL game, and Mark Fraser injured, Rielly remaining with the team right now is a no brainer. Once Fraser is healthy, and if Ranger is able to get his feet under him, it will be interesting to see how the organization decides to play with Rielly’s service time as the season goes on.