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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Jake Muzzin, Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Muzzin, Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /

If Morgan Rielly leaves, then what?

While losing the defenseman will leave a large hole on the team, there is a possibility it happens. What if Dubas does opt to either trade him or let him walk away in free agency?

First, the Maple Leafs would need to find who can fill in the spot at LD1. There are only two options that are in the organization. They are either Muzzin or Sandin.

Many expect the 21-year-old Swede to become a top-pairing defenseman one day. It then becomes the question; will he be ready to take on that responsibility for the ’22-’23 season?

He has had success at every level he played. From putting up almost one point per game in the OHL to doing the same in the AHL, there is a lot to be excited about regarding Rasmus Sandin.

In his young NHL career, he has 37 regular-season and five playoff games to his name. That’s not enough experience for someone to play a top-pairing role. There is this upcoming season for Sandin to prove his worth as an everyday contributor, and that may tell the tale.

Muzzin has been a solid player for Toronto since his arrival. Not only is he heavily relied upon on the penalty kill, but he also likes to crush the opponent and has the hockey sense to contribute offensively.

Since the ’14-’15 season, the Woodstock native has averaged 39 points per 82 games. That’s more than enough offense for a defenseman to have an impact. No, he is not as flashy as other players, but the stats show he will make a difference.

Muzzin is up there as one of the more underrated two-way defensemen in the NHL. Then again, he has been relieved he was never the top defenseman on his team. On his former team, the Los Angeles Kings, Norris winner Drew Doughty hogged all the attention.

With Sandin as a future replacement, and Muzzin playing quietly spectacularly, the Leafs should be able to handle losing Rielly, right? Well, for the same reason Hall of Famer Mats Sundin couldn’t bring a cup home, no.

Teams need multiple defensemen that impact the game. Finding another player like Morgan Rielly is a lot harder than it may seem. I mean, it took the Leafs pretty much two decades to ice an intimidating team after all.

Not many defensemen can rack up 70+ points in one season, but the Leafs  assistant captain did. His speed, offensive instincts, and improving defensive play are all the reasons you can’t replace him.

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Yes, the cap space will be tight if the Toronto Maple Leafs retain him, but Kyle Dubas understands the talent Morgan Rielly is. The GM can and should keep the 27-year-old because they can at the end of the day, and it will cost too many picks to find another player like him.