Toronto Maple Leafs Blue-Line Goes from Weakness to Strength

Toronto Maple Leafs - Travis Dermott (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Travis Dermott (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs Blue LIne is looking pretty good at the moment.

Long thought to be a weakness of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team’s current blue-line looks amazing.

Things are coming together on the back-end, and it’s showing in the results.

This was written prior to last night’s victory (or loss) against the New Jersey Devils, but at the time of writing, the Leafs had won five in a row.

Toronto Maple Leafs Blue-Line

A fellow EIL writer suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs should get P.K Subban out of New Jersey yesterday, but where would he play?

The Leafs top pairing of Tyson Barrie and Morgan Rielly is on fire, and despite some good results, still getting 55% of the expected goals. (all stats

The second pairing of Justin Holl and Jake Muzzin has been a revelation

Holl has a 53% possession rating this year, and his stats are between 53 and 55% across the board.   This includes a 53% expected goals rating when paired with Jake Muzzin.  This is the shut-down line the Leafs have been looking for, and it also can score.

The third pairing of Cody Ceci and Travis Dermott hasn’t been bad, and Dermott has game-breaking potential.

Unsurprisingly, Ceci is posting better stats on the third pairing with Dermott than he was on the first pairing with Rielly.

The only weak spot is Ceci, and certainly you aren’t going to take on Subban’s cap hit (even with money retained) to play him on the third pairing.

The Leafs – in my opinion – do not even need to add to their blue-line.  If they can move Ceci and clear some cap space, I think they should add a left winger.

The reason the Leafs don’t need to add to their defense is because it’s already fantastic.

The first pairing is dynamic, effective and fun to watch.

The second pairing is reliable, and way above average.

The third pairing features a player – Travis Dermott – who is a legit top four NHL defenseman and perhaps has the potential to be a top pairing guy.

The only thing they need is an upgrade on Ceci and they’ve got two already on their roster.

Whether the Leafs end up using Timothy Liljegren or Rasmus Sandin in this role is the only real question.  Either one would suffice, and I’d bet one of them burns a year off their ELC before the season is over.

Next. Best Goals of the Decade. dark

The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t need to trade for a defenseman, because their blue-line is already extremely good.  Few teams can rival Barrie-Rielly-Muzzin as their top three, and none of the teams that can have a set of options like Holl, Dermott, Sandin and Liljegren to back them up,

Long thought to be a weakness, the Leafs blue line is a massive strength.