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Kadri, Rielly sign new contracts with Maple Leafs

Toronto views players as key parts of core who have yet to reach full potential

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Forward Nazem Kadri and defenseman Morgan Rielly each signed a six-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

Financial details were not revealed, but TSN reported Kadri's contract has an average annual value of $4.5 million and Rielly's contract is for $5 million per season.

Kadri and Rielly, who each could have become a restricted free agent July 1, had strong seasons, but Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said Wednesday each player hadn't yet tapped his full potential.

"I think there's more that they can do," Lamoriello said. "All you have to do is look at their age, where they're at and look at what they've experienced. There's no question they have a level they haven't reached yet and it's going to be up to them to commit to that and do the things necessary to get there. It'll be up to us to help them get there."

Kadri, 25, had 17 goals and a Maple Leafs-best 45 points in 76 games. The seventh pick of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Maple Leafs, Kadri has 81 goals and 197 points in 326 regular-season games. He had signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs on July 6, and the organization determined he had done enough this season to warrant a long-term contract.

"I worked hard in order to achieve this goal and it means a lot to rewarded for that," Kadri said. "There will be growing pains. But at the end of the day, if you continue to get better, that's what is most important. The Maple Leafs logo is all I've ever known and it's all I've ever wanted to play for. So for them to show this kind of commitment meant a lot."

Kadri developed into the reliable center coach Mike Babcock requires. He led Maple Leafs forwards in average ice time per game (18:16), and led them in power-play points (14) and shots on goal (260), and was second in takeaways (47). He won 49.2 percent of his faceoffs.

"[Kadri] showed that he can be put in any role no matter what it might be," Lamoriello said. "He knows now the respect the organization has for him and what he can do."

Kadri said he's looking forward to working more with Babcock and getting back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them the past three seasons.

"[Babcock] has been around the League for a long time," Kadri said. "He knows his players and cares about not only you as a player, but you as a person. With all those attributes, that makes a great coach. So with his guidance and the pieces we have in place, the direction we're headed is a good one."

Rielly, 22, was selected by the Maple Leafs with the fifth pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He led Toronto in average ice time per game (23:13) and blocked shots (122), and led Maple Leafs defensemen with nine goals and 36 points in 82 games.

Rielly will play for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Championship and Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

"I've had an opportunity to watch [Rielly] 80-something games and also practices, and I know what our coaching staff thinks of him," Lamoriello said. "So there's no question in my mind of what his potential is. And not only potential, but where he is today. Just look at the ice time he gets against the top teams."

Rielly earned valuable minutes on specialty teams this season under Babcock, something that didn't happen with regularity under previous coaches Randy Carlyle and Peter Horachek.

"When your coach has that trust in you, wants to put you on the ice, you know you have an opportunity to help the team and that's the most important thing," Rielly said. "I think [Babcock] has that trust in me and [Kadri]. When your coach has that trust in you, you want to be able to do well for him and play well for your teammates.

"I know I have a long way to go in my career, but it's all about getting better every day. I want to be a player in this League that the team can be proud of and I think that this year I took some steps. But there's more ways to improve."

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