In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share the good news that defenceman Morgan Rielly has had his contract extended for eight more years with the Maple Leafs. Second, I’ll share this morning’s news about lineup changes for the game tomorrow night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Item One: Morgan Rielly Signs an Eight-Year Contract Extension
Today the Maple Leafs reported that its star defenseman Morgan Rielly had signed an eight-year contract extension with the team. The deal is for an average annual value of $7.5 million and $60 million in total.
It’s a good deal for the Maple Leafs, who’ll hold onto one of their stars and good citizens. Given the offseason signings of other elite defensemen for higher contracts, the lower numbers on the contract (if anyone could suggest that $7.5 million per year is low) suggest that Rielly took a bit of a hometown discount to stay with the team.
Rielly would have been eligible to become a UFA (unrestricted free agent) this coming offseason. He was picked during the first round (fifth overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and has played his entire career with the Maple Leafs. In his time with the team, he’s put up 59 goals and 250 assists (for 309 points) in 580 career games.
The 27-year-old Rielly will likely remain as the team’s top left defenseman and will quarterback the Maple Leafs’ power play for years to come. Given the rapid emergence of young defenseman Rasmus Sandin, that gives the team two solid defensemen for the near future.
Obviously, the announcement of Rielly’s signing today solves one of the big problems the team faced going forward. However, it also creates some practical issues. For example, what moves does Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas have to make to fit Rielly under the upper limits of the NHL’s salary cap? Surely everyone expected and hopes the salary cap will rise next season, but how much?
It also brings up the question about who the team might move out to find the additional salary. The most obvious thought is whether Alex Kerfoot will remain with the team or if he’ll be on his way? In addition, goalie Jack Campbell has been playing well. What if he has a huge season?
From my perspective, good for the Maple Leafs. But there remains work to do. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Item Two: Justin Holl Will Sit on Saturday Against the Red Wings
Today TSN’s Mark Masters tweeted that Justin Holl would be a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. The reason was simple – underperformance. Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe announced after Friday’s practice that Holl is not having the season that the team has expected of him. In short, he’s not meeting expectations so far this season.
During practice today, Holl was the extra defenseman. The shutdown pairing of Holl and Jake Muzzin definitely hasn’t been playing as well as Maple Leafs’ fans have come to expect. Both players have poor plus/minus ratings this session. Last season Holl had a plus-16 rating, but this season his rating stands at minus-7. He hasn’t registered a point in his seven games.
Item Three: Petr Mrazek Will Be Starting in Goal Against Detroit on Saturday
Petr Mrazek will get the start on Saturday against the team that drafted him during the fifth round (141st overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Mrazek played six seasons with the Red Wings until he was moved to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2018 trade deadline. Before he left Detroit, Mrazek played the first 166 games of his career with that organization.
Mrazek was injured on October 14 during the second period of the Ottawa Senators game. It was Mrazek’s first Maple Leafs’ start. Although he actually played well in that game, the three goals he surrendered on the 26 shots he faced before having to leave the game might suggest otherwise. The goals were a bit fluky.
That means that starting goalie 1A Jack Campbell will be given the game off. It will be good to give him a rest.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
To make room for Mrazek coming off the injured list, Michael Amadio was placed on waivers. In Amadio’s three games with the team this season, he’s played well. However, he’s been a healthy scratch for the last five games.
If Amadio clears waivers, he’ll likely be headed to the Toronto Marlies.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf