Put Morgan Rielly Back on Powerplay 1
John Klingberg was signed by Brad Treliving to a $4.15M one-year contract after declining every year since his 2017-18 peak, including a very rough 2022-2023 season split between Anaheim and Minnesota.
Never a defensive stalwart, Klingberg’s offensive talents and capability running the powerplay were supposed to offset his defensive liabilities. The Leafs were taking a bet that a 31 year-old formerly high-end player could find his game, but it was always a longshot.
Through eight games this season, Klingberg has been as bad as advertised defensively, and has looked awkward anchoring the Toronto Maple Leafs top powerplay unit with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares.
Soft errant passes, misreading the play and an inability to find open shooting lanes from the point have plagued Klingberg from Day 1.
Meanwhile, Morgan Rielly has clearly been the best Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman with 2 goals and 7 points already, while Klingberg has yet to notch his first goal as a Maple Leaf. Yes, it’s still early in the season, and the Leafs power play is clicking along at a rate better than 32% (stats from quanthockey.com). But why stick with a lineup that could be even better?
Sheldon Keefe needs to maximize the output from a roster that clearly has some holes in it. Experimentation is fine to a point, but at the end of the season those points can make a big difference in the standings.