Since this past off-season began, 16 defensemen have signed new contracts or extensions with a cap hit of $5 million or more. 11 of them were for 6 years or longer.

  • Zachary Werenski — 6 years, $9,583,333 AAV
  • Charlie McAvoy — 8 years, $9,500,000 AAV
  • Seth Jones — 8 years, $9,500,000 AAV
  • Darnell Nurse — 8 years, $9,250,000 AAV
  • Cale Makar — 6 years, $9,000,000 AAV
  • Dougie Hamilton — 7 years, $9,000,000 AAV
  • Miro Heiskanen — 8 years, $8,450,000 AAV
  • Quinn Hughes — 6 years, $7,850,000 AAV
  • Colton Parayko — 8 years, $6,500,000 AAV
  • Mattias Ekholm — 4 years, $6,250,000 AAV
  • Ryan Pulock — 8 years, $6,150,000 AAV
  • Rasmus Dahlin — 3 years, $6,000,000 AAV
  • Neal Pionk — 4 years, $5,875,000 AAV
  • Adam Pelech — 8 years, $5,750,000 AAV
  • Alec Martinez — 3 years, $5,250,000 AAV
  • Alex Goligoski — 1 year, $5,000,000 AAV/

Even with the flat cap, defensemen are making bank. And the fun thing is that this is likely to continue through this year and next off-season. There are a handful of other top-pair defensemen who will be free agents: Kris Letang, Adam Fox, Hampus Lindholm, and Morgan J. Rielly.

Rielly is not in that top tier of defensemen making $9+ million, but that next tier with the likes of Colton Parayko and Mattias Ekholm making $6+ million AAV. They were also UFA deals and extensions with their previous team. Rielly may not be the cream of the crop, but he’s a legit top pair guy who can run a top powerplay unit.

We’re going to hear a lot of “will they, or won’t they” when it comes to the Maple Leafs extending Rielly after this season or not. Can’t wait!

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Speaking of prospects, Topi Niemelä had a career game with one goal and two assists. He has 2 goals and 12 points this season — both are career bests for him in the Liiga through only 12 games.

Matt Knies had a good game of his own. He had this all-hustle secondary assist that tied the game between two top NCAA teams. He has 3 points in 3 games to start his rookie NCAA season.

Well, this is a weird thing that apparently happened.