USATSI_9218361_154158418_lowresThe Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly to six-year contracts.

The deals solidify the intentions of the franchise going forward, with Rielly serving time as the top defenceman and Kadri coming into his own as a depth centre.

The deal is a symbol of good faith in Kadri in particular, as it finally represents the long-term investment the Maple Leafs have seemed reluctant to make. As we discussed when the 25-year-old was suspended for cross-checking Detroit Red Wings centre Luke Glendening a little over a week ago, the forward had an impressive season and has long been caught in Toronto’s revolving door of one-year deals.

According to reports, Kadri’s contract is worth an average annual value of $4.5 million. That’s a bit of an upgrade from his previous salary of $4.1 million, but it’s really the term the player was after. He’s made no bones about wanting to stay in Toronto and now he has his wish.

As for Rielly, the Leafs’ investment in his services is more of a sure thing. It’s no secret that they have more confidence in the blueliner and the deal isn’t out there, clocking in at a reported $5 million a season.

These are the most significant term contracts in the Brendan Shanahan era for the Maple Leafs and they are sensible deals, both in terms of the cap and in terms of the team’s future. The franchise has spent considerable time ditching contracts and reloading in order to find cap space, so it’s a nice change to see them prepared to show faith in some of their players.

“I don’t think they’ve tapped what they can do. No question they have a level they haven’t reached yet,” said Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello. “This is just another step towards where we want to be as far as developing the foundation of this franchise.”

In 82 games this season, Rielly had 36 points – including nine goals. He’s steadily increased his totals in three years in Toronto and is learning to fire the puck with more efficacy. Toronto’s statement of intent will only solidify his presence in key game situations and he could make the jump to even more ice time in the near future.

Kadri had 45 points in 76 games this season, with 17 goals and 28 assists. He had 14 points on the power play and fired the puck for 260 shots o goal, his career best. His tenacity and knack for drawing penalties makes him a nice option off the scoreboard, too, and the Leafs like what he brings to the table.

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