Defenseman and Ice TIme
One main way the Leafs could allow less shots is to give more minutes to their best shot defensemen. Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly and Travis Dermott are significantly and objectively better than whatever else the Leafs have to offer.
Travis Dermott plays two minutes less per game than Ron Hainsey. No one on the Leafs exceeds 22 minutes per night. 22 of the league’s 31 teams have a defenseman who plays 24 minutes per night. The Leafs should raise the minutes of Dermott, Gardiner and Rielly to significantly improve their team.
Morgan Rielly is the 44th most used defenseman in the NHL, in terms of time played per game. I don’t think it takes a genius to see the Leafs could be playing him a bit more when he is easily better than most of the guys playing more minutes.
The Leafs have three defenseman that could all effectively play 24 minutes per night, Dermott, Rielly and Gardiner. If we adjust their current ice time levels per game to 24 minutes, the Leafs would be able to add ten minutes per game where they are playing their best players over their worst ones.
I think it would be a significant upgrade.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a good team, but they can be a great team. Frederick Andersen is making them look better than they are, and if they are serious about winning the Stanley Cup, they’ve got to get the shots against under control.
stats from Naturalstattrick.com