Toronto Maple Leafs: Breaking Down the 2023-24 Blue-Line

Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers during first period action in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on May 7, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers during first period action in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the FLA Live Arena on May 7, 2023 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
ST LOUIS, MO – NOVEMBER 21: John Klingberg #3  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

John Klingberg

It defies reason why the Toronto Maple Leafs decided to pay John Klingberg $4 million dollars to play hockey this year.

Had they not signed him, they’d arguably be a better team and wouldn’t currently be over the salary cap.

Klingberg is like Tyson Barrie, but much worse.  Barrie at least tended to put up solid peripheral numbers and was actually quite a bit underrated in Toronto.

Klingberg just stinks.

The last time Klingberg’s team got positive results when he was on the ice, was the same year Mark Giordano won the Norris. Ever since then, with the exception of his 17 games in Minnesota (where his Expected Goals Rating was 43%), his team has lost his minutes.

With five other puck moving defenseman, he’d have to be the best power-play defenseman in the world in order for his special-teams play to make up for how bad he is at 5v5 where 80% of the game is played.

His Expected Goals Rating in Anaheim last year was 38% and he was the worst player in the NHL until he was traded to the Wild where he was also terrible.

Klingberg scored under 1 point per 60 in Anaheim, and just over 1 point per 60 in MN, which puts him well under Morgan Rielly overall.

His offense is overrated, his defense is impossible to underrate, and his overall game is terrible.  He’s also 31 and players his age don’t get better, they get worse.

Matt Dumba, who played ahead of Klingberg on the Wild, somehow got less money than the Leafs game Klingberg.

This was a bad signing, inexplicable even.   There is no way for the Toronto Maple Leafs to justify using Klingberg ahead of developing a prospect like Topi Niemela.