If Brad Treliving and Sheldon Keefe decide to go a different route than Tavares, there is only one of two choices that they can make.
The first choice would be the longest serving Toronto Maple Leafs player and that is Morgan Rielly. The Vancouver native has embraced Toronto as his home and will be entering his eleventh season as a Maple Leaf.
Rielly is here for the long haul as he will be entering year two of an eight year deal this season and will be turning 30-years old just prior to the upcoming playoffs. To an outside fan, Rielly may not appear to be a gritty type player, he had less penalties last season than Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares, however he may be the toughest player of the group.
Although he has never registered more than 40 penalty minutes in a season and only has a total of 202 over his career, the former fifth overall pick is the one-star player that is not afraid to stick up for teammates.
In his last fight, Rielly came in the defense of Nick Robertson who received a questionable hit from Josh Morrissey. Without hesitation, Rielly went at the Winnipeg defenseman and engaged in a fight, while on the same play the Jets Mark Scheifele dropped the gloves with John Tavares, however the Leafs captain refused.
Despite a lot of his teammates disappearing at times in the playoffs, Rielly continuously shows up. This past post season the Maple Leafs star defenseman finished with 12 points in 11 games while logging over 24-minutes a game and finishing with a team leading +11.
One critique against Rielly would be that at times his game is not the most consistent, however he has been arguably the Leafs best playoff performer over the years. Rielly’s desire to do whatever it takes to win may make him the best choice as captain.