Toronto Maple Leafs Should Consider Trading Morgan Rielly

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Toronto Maple Leafs fans might not want to say it is so, but Mo must go.

Morgan Rielly, the Toronto Maple Leafs highest paid defenseman, and longest tenured player, needs to be traded for an elite goaltender.

The best way to hide Toronto's biggest deficiencies - and they have a few glaring ones - is from the net out.

And that is why they must consider trading one of their best players.

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Consider Trading Morgan Rielly

The Leafs plan should be to trade Rielly for a backstop, then sign two unrestricted free agents, say any of Brandon Montour, Nikita Zadorov, Brady Skjei or Brett Pesce, then fill out the forward slots with Marlies and bam! You've got a much improved, well-rounded team capable of not breaking as easily as Glass Joe's jaw in Mike Tyson's Punch Out.

Yes, Rielly has a no movement clause, and, yes, he's arguably the Leafs best defender, but he's not a high-end D-man and Toronto cannot win without a back-end built to move players away from high danger scoring areas.

The Leafs will continue to perform well in the regular season, but, as borne out by the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers, the squads that can dish out and take the most punishment will go deeper come playoff time.

Rielly is two-ply soft. He's no Drew Doughty. Heck, he's not even a Gustav Forsling. Opponents take advantage of the Leafs lack of toughness in the playoffs where Rielly is exposed time and again.

Rielly played the most minutes a game for the blue and white during the 2023-24 season at 23:44 per contest. Former Leafs Coach Sheldon Keefe trotted him out there for all three phases of the game but Rielly did not excel particularly well at any of them.

Rielly's 7.5 AAV cap hit could easily be moved for a star goaltender, who typically carry a $6M salary. Everyone and their Aunt argues for the Leafs to rid themselves of Mitch Marner, one of the best overall players in the National Hockey League, yet no one has advocated to ship Rielly out.

There could be a few goalies out there available in a swap, especially if the return is a player like Rielly. Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators and Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins would both be insane upgrades in net for the Leafs. Their value in the crease would far exceed what Rielly brings and the Leafs could then ink a few defenseman with the $20M that General Manager Brad Treliving has at his disposal.

Since he entered the league, the Leafs get a point in the standings 68 percent of time without him in the lineup and 57 percent when he laces up. It is a sample size of about one hundred games, so to ignore its significance would be as stupid as throwing Ryan Reaves over the boards in the third period of a one goal game.


Either way, the time has come to trade Morgan Rielly. It would be a DeRozan/Kawhi situation. Treliving should thank Mo for his service, then utilize his value to bring in the one position player that will help them the most to win a Stanley Cup: a freakin' goaltender.