Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Morgan Rielly a True #1 Defenseman?
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Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly has been playing fantastic as of late, but is he a #1 defenceman?
Morgan Rielly has truly improved tremendously this past season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rielly notched 56 points last season, almost doubling his point total from his 2016/17 campaign. He played on the first line since former captain Dion Phaneuf was his line-mate. But does that mean he is a #1 defenceman?
With Rielly having a break out year last season, it could have been just a one-time improvement, reaching his ceiling already. Most likely with the way he was performing with big minutes, it was the real deal. Rielly had an ATOI of almost 22 minutes, leading the team with the exception of Gardiner and Hainsey. With Hainsey getting so many minutes do to leading the penalty kill.
Along with Drew Doughty and Victor Hedman, he was one of only three NHL defenseman to score fifty points, play against the top percentile of competition and have a positive possession rating. That is heady company. When you consider that he did this with Ron Hainsey as his partner it is even more impressive. (and the WOWYS say Rielly really took off when partnered with anyone else, while Hainsey tanked without Rielly).
With the way Rielly lead Toronto’s back end, he’s gonna just get better and better. Especially if he is partnered with a player who compliments his game.
The 23 year-old hasn’t reached his prime yet and has lots of potential to become that number one. I don’t expect Rielly to double his point total again, but if he has a healthy season, he can rack up a good 10-20 more points.
Does Toronto Need to Bring in a #1 Defenceman?
There’s been lots of talk that the Toronto Maple Leafs should look to acquire John Carlson. Being the best defenceman potentially on the market, there’s no secret to why. He racked up the most points by a d-man with 68 during the regular season. But, is it worth it to sacrifice a lot of salary and can Rielly handle it himself?
John Carlson would be a great addition to any team, but would cost likely over $8 million to sign him. Now Stanley Cup champion, he was almost a point-per-game in the playoffs with 20 points in 24 games. Carlson is a similar player to Rielly – both are great offensive defenseman with troubles on the defensive end. A more complimentary player for Rielly would be someone who plays excellent defense.
Morgan Rielly even on bad games, seems to be one of the best Leafs on the ice. That kind of player is needed on every team, and usually one of your best. Morgan Rielly can and most likely will be a true #1 defenceman. Right now he is on the right path, already being arguably the best defenceman on the team. At 23, his best years haven’t even started yet.
stats from hockey-reference.com + Naturalstattrick.com