5. The First Line
I’ve already talked about how Matthews and Marner do as well as ever when they are on the ice with Morgan Rielly, and clearly the Leafs can’t go one with just a single above average defenseman on their team, but there is another problem.
The Toronto Maple Leafs clearly miss him more than any player they lost last summer. It’s not just that he put up superstar numbers at 5v5 with Matthews and Marner, but that he did it for $900K.
I like Matthew Knies but he just not be ready for prime time. Then again, he might be, if the first line problems are exclusively due to having no good D after Rielly. At this point, the jury is out, but it clearly wouldn’t hurt to have a more experienced top line player.
6. Third Line Centre
Max Domi is alright.
But, historically, teams with 3 x numer-one centres down the middle are unbeatable. If you don’t have a great third line, you need a supreme blue-line to compensate.
The Leafs, you might be aware, are oh-for-two in that department right now.
If everything else is clicking, you can get along without a great 3C, but Max Domi is clearly not the answer here.
It’s only #6 on their biggest problems list, but it’s still a problem.
7. Ryan Reaves
He’s fast becoming the worst player in Toronto Maple Leafs history. I know it’s embarrassing that they have to cut a player they just gave a three-year contract to, but the stupidity of this deal was apparent the second it was signed.
Ryan Reaves is not an NHL player anymore, and every day he spends here is just an indictment of the GM because it’s OK to make mistakes, but it’s not OK to ignore them and not correct them.
In conclusion, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a roster problem – the blue line – and the repercussions from having such a bad blue-line are that the two best indicators of future success are currently very bad.
There is a whole host of other problems, but the main one is the blue-line.
The good news here is that they have assets and cap space (or at least flexibility) and should be able to fix the problem before things go too far south.