The Only Way the Toronto Maple Leafs Have a Good Blue-Line Is…

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – The Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line is a mess.

Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to sit Timothy LIljegren and Erik Gustaffson in the playoffs, and that was because they had an impressive amount of depth.

But it was also because the coach dressed Justin Holl and Luke Schenn too high in the lineup.  Now, both were understandable moves to some extent, but the Leafs were sitting two of their best players while playing two of their worst and that gave an impression of depth that might not have been real.

They were also dressing Marc Giordano and he was brutal in the playoffs.

So was Jake McCabe. In fact, McCabe was so bad in the playoffs that what should be a huge bonus (he’s got a tiny cap-hit) has basically been completely ignored. If he’s better, the Leafs blue-line will be too.

The problem with the Leafs blue-line last year was a lack of star power and high-end talent.  This year they are also missing that, but they have basically lost all their physicality and they’ve lost their depth.

There is basically only way their blue-line is going to be any good this year.

The Only Way the Toronto Maple Leafs Have a Good Blue-Line Is…

If Timothy Liljegren breaks out and becomes a star.

Considering that he was not dressed in the playoffs for either of the past two seasons, this seems like a dubious prospect.

It is not, however, impossible.

First of all, when Liljegren has been on the ice for the last two seasons, the Leafs are winning.

With him on the ice, 5v5, the Leafs have scored 107 goals and allowed 73, which is an elite 59% goals-for rating. He’s been a little bit lucky putting up these numbers, but two years ago his expected-goals percentage was 59% and last year it was 52%. (

The Leafs win when he plays, and they are supposed to, even if they did get a little lucky last year when he played.

Liljegren doesn’t score much, he was the least used regular on special teams last year.  He does win his minutes, but the coach doesn’t seem to trust him.

He’s a good player, he’s got some potential to be a solid top-four contributor on a good team, but he’s going to turn 25 during this upcoming season and the chances he becomes a star at this point seem very low.

The problem is that they don’t figure to be dressing anyone with any upside, so for the moment, this is their best shot.

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Unfortunately, barring a trade, that is the only scenario I can see where the Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line is not a major weakness for the team.