Toronto Maple Leafs Record Is Unsustainable: Four Ways to Fix That

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 07: The Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate after an NHL hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks on October 07, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. Toronto won in overtime 7-6. (Photo By Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 07: The Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate after an NHL hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks on October 07, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. Toronto won in overtime 7-6. (Photo By Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO – APRIL 23: From left, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey, center Mitchell Marner and defenseman Morgan Rielly celebrate Marner’s goal in the second period. The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario on April 23, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

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.

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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