The Toronto Maple Leafs are having quite the season.
Despite a series of recent Covid related postponements, almost everything has gone right for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
The top players continue to reward management’s faith in them, while Jack Campbell has been the best goalie in the world, and the team wins, pretty much, every game.
But one player who has really come through and played fantastic is Morgan Rielly.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Morgan Rielly
This year, he likely won’t get anywhere close to the Norris due to the fantastic season that Cale Makar is having, but that doesn’t change the fact that Rielly is having an absolutely amazing season to date. His best yet, actually.
His 26 points in 30 games put him on par with his previous 72 point season, though 20 goals is unlikely to ever happen again. (Naturalstattrick.com).
Rielly’s 16 5v5 points lead the NHL in defenseman scoring. With 26 overall points, he is tied for fourth in total points, all situations.
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Rielly to a seven year contract extension that likely keeps him in Toronto for his entire career. The $7.5 cap hit is large, but for the team’s leader, and best defenseman, it’s a fair deal, and one the Leafs won’t regret.
There are 124 NHL defenseman right now who’ve played a minimum of 400 minutes 5v5. Of these defenseman, Rielly ranks 21st with a 53.38 Corsi-For Percentage.
The Leafs get 53% of the shots when Rielly is on the ice, 55% of the scoring chances (10th), 51% of the high-danger scoring chances, and 54% of the expected goals.
The numbers are great, but what really pops are the results.
At 5v5, the Toronto Maple Leafs are outscoring the opposition 29-15 which is good for 66% of the goals. This involves a little luck, and it probably won’t always be this good, but those are fantastic results never the less.
Only Nick Jenson, Dmitri Orlov, Rasmus Anderson, Justin Faulk and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are getting better results among qualified defenseman. Save one, all of those players’ teams are scoring on a much higher percentage of their shots than the Leafs have been.
The numbers don’t lie: Morgan Rielly is one of the best defenseman in the NHL, and is, generally, pretty underrated overall. The Toronto Maple Leafs are lucky to have him. Makar’s 13 goals (and counting) are going to win him the Norris Trophy, but at his point, Rielly has a solid case as the runner up.