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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

2017-18 Leafs Season in Review: Morgan Rielly

In the third installment of our Season in Review series, comes our leading player on the blueline and in our hearts, Morgan Rielly.

Let’s take a deep dive into the beautiful, toothless, and lipless, defenseman.

Stats

GP GOALS ASSISTS POINTS CORSI % (5V5) XGF% (5V5)
76 6 45 51 50.84 50.35

A career-high in points this season, Rielly set the bar as a contributor from the blueline. Especially with 25 of those 51 points coming from the powerplay, he was able to prove his worth as a quarterback on the man advantage. Compared to last year, Rielly almost doubled his point total in the same amount of games – 27 last year, 51 this year in 76 games played. A significant improvement for the Vancouver native.

Rielly’s 50.84 5v5 CF% is not very impressive, but still respectable for a defenseman playing against the first line of most opposition. In this category he was 8th among all Leafs skaters and 3rd among all Leafs defenseman – only Travis Dermott and Connor Carrick had better shot attempt numbers. That’s saying something when those two players were mostly on the third-pairing when they got to play.

Having to play against top competition is tough, as seen by his xGF%. He was 16th among all Leafs skaters and 5th among Leafs defenseman, it was still positive so that’s a nice thing to have when he was averaging 18:15 TOI at 5v5.

Grade: B+

I’m going to give Rielly the benefit of the doubt and not be too harsh on his underlying numbers. He had to play against some tough competition and with some underwhelming defensive partners.

His offensive numbers are a massive improvement from last year and his powerplay abilities really shone this season.

Fun Fact

Rielly and Gardiner became the first two Leafs defenseman to both score 50 points in a season, since Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe did it in the 2006-07 season.

He also played on the greatest hockey team ever put together, Team North America during  the World Cup of Hockey in September 2016.

Season Highlight

Rielly has just been consistent all-year-long from the blueline, so a play like this is the first one that jumps out at me. He’s not been flashy this year, but just a solid contributor and distributor of the puck.

Sauce the biscuit to Flozak for a snipeshow.

…that felt wrong to write.

2018-19 Outlook

Rielly will stay right where he has been for the past couple of seasons, on the top pair with no help.

Hopefully this summer there can be a big trade for a potential #1RHD, but without that Rielly is still arguably our best defenseman that we have. It’s just too bad we can’t get him a nice partner to balance out the play with.

Babcock can potentially experiment a little bit, since he’s losing one of his go-to penalty killers in Roman Polak, maybe he can give Rielly an increased role on that special team.

Unless they are set on entering next season captainless again, Rielly surely provides them with that responsible leader defenseman archetype. You can’t say no to Captain Mo.

He’s just so damn handsome.

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