Toronto Maple Leafs: Who Will be Their Playoff X-Factor?

Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
5 of 6

Morgan Rielly

The Leafs will need offense generated from their defense during the playoffs. The Leafs blue-line is not built for offense, so they'll need to get everything they can out of Rielly.

Morgan Rielly is producing well this season, and the Leafs will need even more from him come playoff time. He has seven goals and 45 assists for 52 points in 66 games.

Rielly has three assists in his last five games, so there is still a chance he could reach 50 assists for the third time in his career.

Rielly is averaging 23:48 minutes of ice time this season, and during the playoffs, his workload could get even heavier. So, depending on how healthy the Leafs defense core is, I would think that Rielly will get one of the Leafs final two games off for rest. The Leafs will want him at 100% once the playoffs start.

As much as the Leafs will benefit from having players like Simon Benoit, Ilya Lyubushkin, and Joel Edmundson hitting every opposing player as often as possible, they still need defensemen like Rielly to get the puck up the ice quickly to generate plays and hopefully create offense.

If Sheldon Keefe and his staff, mainly Guy Boucher, can solve the Leafs recent power play struggles, then I expect Rielly to help the Leafs power play generate offense as well.

Rielly is the longest-active Leafs player on this roster (11 seasons), and he deserves to go on a long playoff run. He registered four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 11 playoff games last season. The Leafs will need similar output again this season.