Toronto Maple Leafs: Regular Season Defensive Pairing Predictions

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Morgan Reilly, Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 04: Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)

Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs had one of the most defensively sound systems in years. With a couple of offseason changes on the back end this year, what will the blue line look like for the 2021-22 season?

The 2020-21 season brought us a number of great storylines for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their defense. We saw the emergence of Justin Holl and Rasmus Sandin and watched them turn into competent NHL blueliners, while newly acquired free agent T.J. Brodie brought a breath of fresh air to the back end with solid two-way play.

This year the look of the lines at (healthy) even strength will likely be pretty much the same with a minor tweak on the bottom pairing with the departure of Zach Bogosian to Tampa.

We start off today with the easy one, the Rielly Brodie pairing.

Leafs Defensive Pairing #1: Rielly-Brodie

We saw them play together all year last year, and (for the most part) we loved them. Brodie and Rielly played the most out of any Leaf blueliners last year, as well as into the playoffs, and served as strong back-end options for all situations.

From breaking it out of their own end to jumping up into the offense, or to Brodie becoming a  master at breaking up and handling 2-on-1s, this pairing did it all.

Last season, Rielly finished with a total of 35 points in 55 games, a PPG pace of 0.64. It’s not quite the same as the 0.88 PPG, 72 point masterpiece he put together just a couple of years ago, but as a defenseman, there are still no complaints at that pace. (stats

Brodie finished with only 14 points on the score sheet, but his presence was much more than that. Not only was he someone who Keefe trusted in all situations and became a master at breaking up 2-on-1s, but he finished tied for 2nd on the team in blocks, with 84, something you love to see out of any defenseman.

It would be nice to see a little more of a step-up of numbers on the offensive things from Brodie, but if not, no one is going to complain. He does the little things right and on this Toronto Maple Leafs team, we could always use a little more of that.

The need for a strong partner on the right side was a long time coming for Rielly, and from what we saw last season, there isn’t any reason for the pair to split up.

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