The Leafs are joining in on the newest trend in hockey: eight-year deals for defencemen.

The AAV is $7.5 million. That amount, while shocking considering the rest of the salaries on the Leafs, is less than he likely would have got in free agency. Recent signings include:

  • Charlie McAvoy at 8 by $9.5 million
  • Darnell Nurse at 8 by $9.25
  • Dougie Hamilton at 7 by $9
  • Colton Parayko at 8 by $6.5
  • Zach Werenski at 6 by $9.58/

The Maple Leafs successfully misdirected everyone’s attention away from this contract early in the season, maintaining they were willing to wait until the spring to discuss it.

Jake Muzzin is under contract through 2024 for $5.625 million and TJ Brodie has the same term for $5 million.

As of now the Maple Leafs have $21.625 million committed to defender salary next year with both Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren as RFAs needing contracts. Neither has arbitration rights.

The salary cap is expected to rise next season by $1 million, and the retained salary to Phil Kessel expires, giving the Leafs $2.2 million more space than they have now. They only need to choose one of Justin Holl or Travis Dermott to remove from the roster and they can otherwise roll the same lineup out for next year.

This is a contract that favours Rielly in that he will get most of him money before anyone thinks of buying him out. That’s part of the cost of keeping the AAV low, as is the length of the term.