If You Think the Maple Leafs Should Trade Rielly, You’re Wrong

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

After another disappointing season, Toronto Maple Leafs fans are acting like Leafs fans

I get it; falling as early as the Toronto Maple Leafs did is frustrating. It makes this into arguably the most disappointing season in recent history. As usual, some fans are calling for extreme measures.

I am frustrated too, but general manager Kyle Dubas needs to put the team in the best position to succeed.

With that in mind, no, trading defenseman Morgan Rielly will not help the Leafs this season, next season, or down the road.

Back to the not so “good ole days”

It’s been a long time since the Toronto Maple Leafs had at least a respected group of defensemen. For me, you have to go back to the ’03-’04 season when Bryan McCabe put up 53 points, and Thomas Kaberle had a down year despite putting up 31 points.

This offseason, Dubas added Zach Bogosian and T.J. Brodie. The two additions were supposed to add more of a defensive-minded presence and some size. Brodie played on the top pairing while Bogosian was a third-paring defenseman.

In the middle of the ’18-’19 season, Dubas made a trade to acquire Jake Muzzin. Since then, he has been a reliable defensive player with a touch of offense in the second pairing.

It took Justin Holl quite a while to become the reliable player he is today. His first season as a starter came last year when he was 28-years-old. Now, he is a top penalty-killer and the second part of the shut-down line with Muzzin.

In the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Toronto selected a key defenseman in Travis Dermott. While some incorrectly consider him to be inconsistent, he is a solid bottom-pairing defenseman who puts up some of the best 3rd pairing numbers in the NHL.

In his back pocket, Dubas has two high-potential defensemen. They are Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. Both got drafted in the first round in back-to-back years. Despite Liljegren joining Toronto first, Sandin earned more NHL games and continues to receive more praise.

Sandin saw time on the power play and looked comfortable in that slot. Unfortunately, he had only one point with the man advantage in 14 regular and postseason games this season. Losing Morgan Rielly would throw the Toronto Maple Leafs back into the longtime struggle of lacking defensemen. While he has his ups and downs, he remains a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL.

His defensive capabilities are underrated, and his offensive instincts remain crucial to the team. He had 30+ points in four of his last six seasons, headlined by his 72-point season back in ’18-’19. It’s not easy to find a defenseman like that.