Morgan Rielly is staying put.
The Maple Leafs announced Friday that Rielly has signed an eight-year, $60 million extension to remain with Toronto, the same team that took him fifth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
The deal removes any possibility of Rielly hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer. According to TSN, the contract includes a full no-move clause and in the final two seasons has a 10-team no-trade list.
"I've just gotten to that point in Toronto where it really feels like home," Rielly told reporters on Friday. "It's a pretty cool feeling. Every day that I've been here since 2012 has been first class and that's the standard around here. It's a pretty special place to be."
Rielly, 27, is the Leafs' longest-tenured player and has evolved into an important pillar on and off the ice. Since making his NHL debut in 2013-14, he has appeared in 580 games for Toronto, with 309 points and an average of 21:53 time on ice per game. He's also a respected leader in the locker room, serving as an alternate captain since 2016.
"There's a reason why the organization has gone through a number of changes over the years but he's the one guy that's lasted," said coach Sheldon Keefe. "It's a nice message from Morgan to the team that he believes in what we're doing here."
Securing Rielly's extension is a much-needed victory for Toronto, which has recently seen key players walk away in free agency. The Leafs couldn't come to terms with top-line winger Zach Hyman last summer, and he went on to sign a seven-year, $38.5 million contract in Edmonton. Same with Frederik Andersen, who joined the Carolina Hurricanes on a two-year, $9 million deal in July.
With big-number extensions rolling in for defensemen around the league, it seemed plausible Rielly might also test the waters when his current six-year, $30 million contract expired. Dougie Hamilton just signed for seven years at $9 million per in New Jersey. Seth Jones got eight years and $76 million from Chicago. Darnell Nurse re-upped with Edmonton on an eight-year, $74 million pact.
There was no way Toronto could have matched those figures, given how close it is already to the NHL's flat cap of $81.5 million. So Rielly's contract looking like a bargain in comparison is exactly what the Leafs needed.
Even still, when Rielly's extension kicks in Toronto will be committing nearly $50 million per season to its core of Rielly, Auston Matthews ($11.64 million), John Tavares ($11 million), Mitch Marner ($10.093 million) and William Nylander ($6.96 million).
Playing the numbers game is familiar by now for Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. He said on Friday that the organization wanted to get something done quickly with Rielly, but navigating the flat cap took time. The two sides eventually found their way forward, and while Toronto's investment in Rielly now is comparatively large, Dubas has no doubts about the longevity of the contract.
"With the commitment for eight years, when you are signing them for that long, you need to know the person you are signing," Dubas said. "We know [Rielly's] going to do the work necessary to maintain his form throughout the deal."
Ideally for Toronto, Rielly (and the rest of that core) will come to be at their best when it matters most. As it is, the Leafs have been missing out on postseason success for years, failing to reach the second round since 2004. Their most recent debacle came last spring, in a blown 3-1 first-round lead against Montreal that sent everyone home early again.
That was the fifth straight opening-round loss for Rielly, who could have chosen to explore options with teams better positioned for playoff success. But it's in Toronto that he wants to win.
"Faith goes both ways," Rielly said. "I believe in the group we have here and the people we have in our locker room. I think for the team to offer me that notion of faith is special, too. I look forward to holding up my end of the bargain of trying to accomplish the ultimate goal."
If anyone in the Leafs' organization can be counted upon to do that, it's Rielly.
"He's put the team ahead of himself," Keefe said. "I think he's just a very selfless player. The talents and abilities he has are a huge part of what he brings, but there's all those other intangibles. There's that passion and commitment he has for the organization with how he conducts himself every day."