With all the focus on Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly quietly having a very strong year

Published April 8, 2022 at 6:56 PM
BY BRADLEY CELSIE
Auston Matthews has, rightfully so, been sucking up a lot of the oxygen in Leafs Nation of late. But while Matthews continues his dominance, Morgan Rielly continues to go about his business and prove he is a legitimate number one defensemen in the National Hockey League.

Last October, the 28-year old Rielly signed an eight year extension worth $60 million ($7.5 million AAV) that will kick in at the start of next season. Given what some of the top defenders around the league have signed for in the last year (Charlie McAvoy & Seth Jones at 8 years x 9.5 million, for example), Rielly's contract seems like a big win for Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas. The extension currently has Rielly as the 22nd highest paid defensemen locked up for next season.

Leaf fans should also be happy that Rielly has not slowed down since signing his extension. So far this season, Rielly sits fifth league wide in points by a defensemen with 61 (10 goals and 51 assists). Rielly's current career high in points is 72, which he set in the 2018-19 season.

Morgan Rielly currently sits fifth in all time points by a Leafs defensemen with 366 as well. Assuming Rielly is here for the duration of his contract (he has a full No-Movement Clause for the first six years of the deal) it is not hard to imagine that he could challenge the legendary Borje Salming for first on that list. Salming had 768 career points as a Toronto Maple Leaf.


So while Matthews has been dominating the league, Leaf fans should also take joy in knowing they have a legitimate number one defensemen locked in for years to come - one who may yet earn himself some top 5 Norris Trophy votes.
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