2. Second Pairing Defenseman
The Toronto Maple Leafs have one of, if not the worst defensive cores of any playoff team. Morgan Rielly is a legit number two defenseman, while the rest of the crew would fit into the bottom pairing on most teams trying to take a run at the Stanley Cup.
Everyone thought this year was the season that Timothy Liljegren would make the jump into the second pairing, but whether it is a recent hand injury or lack of awareness he has been unable to capture that spot.
Jake McCabe has been logging over 20-minutes a night this season and he rightfully has a spot on this team, however a third line spot is more towards his skill set. Treliving needs to bring in someone that can push the second year Maple Leaf down and help Liljegren find his game.
1. Top Pairing Defenseman
None of the other needs matter if the team can not get a top pairing defenseman on the team.
Right now, TJ Brodie is the top pairing defenseman with Rielly, but it has been a train wreck for the entire season. A legitimate top pairing defenseman does two things that are a level ahead that separate them which are they handle the defensive zone and they make clean breakout passes.
Night after night, we see Brodie skate himself into trouble against other teams top players or make passes that do not create a smooth transition game.
Like the rest of the defensive core, Brodie would likely play well on the bottom pairing, unfortunately his $5 Million cap hit will likely make him a casualty at the trade deadline.