Maple Leafs in tough spot with defenseman Morgan Rielly – .

Maple Leafs in tough spot with defenseman Morgan Rielly – .

From my perspective, the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to have two choices. The first choice is to keep Morgan Rielly on the list and try to re-sign him (although the question of where that money would come from is open); or, they could let him leave Toronto.

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If the organization decided to let Rielly go, there would be two choices. Trade it in while it’s tradeable, or just let it run at the end of the season, which would make it an internal rental. Neither looks like the best of all possible worlds as the team would likely lose anyway.

Here’s What Maple Leafs Fans Know About Rielly

What we do know – at least most Maple Leafs fans would agree – is that the roster is better with Rielly than if he was gone. In short, the team needs a defender like Rielly in their lineup. Right now, Rielly’s two closest players on the roster are Rasmus Sandin and newcomer Brennan Menell. Both are young and inexperienced, and Menell is largely unknown.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rasmus Sandin (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Graham Hughes)

Plus, because the Maple Leafs have been so successful since the 2016-17 season, they’ve also got into a bind that almost forces them to hold onto players during the playoffs and then let them walk to no avail. This is what happened with Zach Hyman and others before him. And that could also happen to Rielly at the end of this season.

A deal is even more complicated because no NHL general manager will help his Maple Leafs counterpart Kyle Dubas. Taking advantage of your coworker’s problems is just part of the role of a smart NHL GM.

Outside predictions on what will happen with Rielly

Last week, Bleacher Report’s Lyle Richardson made a number of predictions about what would happen to future NHL free agents. Rielly was among them. To get right to the point, his prediction was: “Prediction: Rielly leaves the Leafs and signs a seven-year contract with the Kraken worth $ 9 million per season.

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So let’s go back from that prediction to see if there is anything possible to be learned from this situation.

Living up to that prediction, Richardson explained the reasons the Seattle Kraken would want to go after Rielly – aside from the obvious fact that he is a strong player. First, Richardson noted that the Kraken may be looking for a first pair left-side defender if Mark Giordano retires or leaves via a free agent next summer. He also noted that Seattle had “only” $ 54.5 million invested in 14 players. This would allow the Kraken enough salary cap space to close big deals in next season’s UFA pool, as they did this season when they signed goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer and left winger Jaden Schwartz.

Richardson also described the Maple Leafs’ salary cap issues, which is nothing new to Blue and White fans. He then went on to explain why Rielly deserved a six-year $ 5 million contract hike. And he rightly noted that Rielly, 27, had been a steal the last few seasons, especially when recent top-level defenseman signings hit $ 9 million. Given the state of play, Rielly deserves more than the net result of his current contract.

Is there a way for the Maple Leafs NOT to allow Rielly to walk for free?

The question remains, could the Maple Leafs and Kraken become business partners before the end of the 2021-22 season, when Rielly would walk for free? One notable thing about the Kraken’s expansion draft picks is that many of them were defenders. That leaves the Kraken with a few players that the Maple Leafs might be interested in.

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The Kraken are also an interesting team in that, more than any other team in the NHL, they really have no idea how good they are this season. Being students of Vegas Golden Knights history, the team should believe they would have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. If that was the case, they might be ready to lure Rielly without too much defrauding the Maple Leafs.

And, not being skinned is important. If the fleece is too painful, you might as well keep Rielly and try her luck.

General manager Kyle Dubas does not deal by force

Other NHL general managers also know that Maple Leafs general manager Dubas is not in force and that he would put him down on any trade offer for Rielly. There, the Kraken could differ. If they see themselves as more than just a competitive team, but even a playoff contender, they might want to use some of their salary cap space to add Rielly to their roster sooner rather than later.

Morgan Rielly Maple Leafs de Toronto
Morgan Rielly, Maple Leafs de Toronto (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Then again, the Kraken might not believe they would have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. Certainly, Seattle general manager Ron Francis understands that – at least for the first few seasons – just having a team is worth gold. Being competitive is a sauce – nice but not necessary. And, if the Kraken don’t see the need to take home the full award this season, there’s no reason not to wait for Rielly in the offseason and get it for nothing other than her salary.

All that logic aside, is there a wild possibility?

As the title suggests, the Maple Leafs are in a tough spot with Rielly. However, if a trade with the Kraken was possible, is there any chance that 24-year-old left-handed defenseman from Mississauga, Vince Dunn, will be available? He could be a good replacement for Rielly and he has an extra year on his $ 4 million contract.

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What we do know is that Seattle recruited a number of defensemen in the expansion draft. The Maple Leafs could certainly use one of those defensemen if Rielly were to be moved. The problem, as it always seems to be the case with any successful regular season team with little salary cap space, is whether it’s better to move a really good player that you know you can’t re-sign. or keep that player and go for the Cup.

It’s the tough place the Maple Leafs inhabit right now.

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