Coming in to the 2023-24 NHL Season, NONE of us expected William Lagesson to be on the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline – let alone playing Top 4 minutes.
Yet, it’s mid-December and here we are. The Toronto Maple Leafs currently sit 3rd place in the ever-competitive Atlantic Division, while William Lagesson plays on the 2nd pairing with Jake McCabe.
Ironically, Lagesson was first recalled to the NHL club on October 27th after Jake McCabe only tallied 00:10 of ice time in a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars the night prior.
McCabe, as we know now, missed 6 games with a groin injury, opening the door for Lagesson to play.
Toronto Maple Leafs: William Lagesson Has Been a Pleasant Surprise
William Lagesson has now suited up in 16 games for the Leafs, following last night’s triumphant 7-3 win over the New York Rangers. He has recorded just 2 assists to date, while averaging 15:11 of time on ice.
While his stat line doesn’t exactly scream success, I’ve frankly been pretty happy with Lagesson’s performance.
He’s not the fleetest of foot, but makes up for it with strong defensive positioning, a hard first-pass, and the element we all say is missing from the Leafs lineup – grit.
Lagesson has played with a fair bit of snarl so far, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. He has recorded 26 hits thus far, but to me, it’s the fact that he is getting in guy’s faces. He is standing his ground, and he is sticking up for others. These things that we used to expect from every NHL player – Lagesson is one of the few guys on the team doing them.
He has great gap control, he has a long reach in the corners, and at 6’2″ and 211lbs, he’s not afraid to push his weight around in front of the net. He’ll even dig his $300+ composite stick into your ribs if you try to get open.
Now – we all want a Top 4 Defencemen via trade, and we all agree that Lagesson cannot be in the Top 4 long-term on a team that has deep-playoff-run aspirations. But truthfully, I would be very happy with Lagesson on a bottom pairing role in the Blue and White come playoff time.
Unlike in years past, we wouldn’t have to worry about sheltering the 3rd pairing in tight games (ahem, Rasmus Sandin, Erik Gustafsson, Travis Dermott, Victor Mete, young Timothy Liljegren, etc). We would have some nastiness and tenacity on the bottom pairing, while still being able to move the puck up the ice and play hockey.
I have quite enjoyed the minutes that the product of UMass-Amherst has logged on the Leafs blueline this season. As an added bonus, it’s nice to a see former Edmonton Oiler join the Leafs – instead of the other way around yet again. Keep up the good work, William Lagesson.