2023-24 Maple Leafs predictions: John Klingberg quarterbacks first power-play unit, puts up 50 points
Photo credit:© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita16 days ago
I was confused and disappointed when Brad Treliving signed John Klingberg to a one-year, $4.15M contract on the first day of free agency.
However, those emotions could also be attributed to what happened earlier in the day, when he signed Ryan Reaves to a three-year, $4.05M contract, a move that left a lot of the fanbase feeling discouraged due to the price tag that came with the 36-year-old enforcer.
Although, after giving it some more thought while Toronto went out and signed a couple of more guys in free agency, I think the signing of Klingberg could be sneaky good for the Leafs on the offensive side of the puck, but not the defensive side of the puck and we all know why.
The 31-year-old is entering his 10th NHL season and has been able to hit at least the 30-point mark in every single season to start his career. However, Klingberg putting up points comes with the cost of being terrible in his end and being on the ice for goals against.
The Swedish native is one of the league’s worst defencemen when it comes to actual defence, but luckily for him, we’ll be talking about offence in this article.
I think it could be great internal competition between Klingberg and Rielly to compete for the first power-play unit role, either before the season starts or even throughout the season. With Klingberg’s shot and smooth skating along the blue line, I think he may have the edge, but his competition is also Morgan Rielly.
Rielly is entering his 11th year with Toronto and has been a mainstay on the power-play unit for years now, so it won’t be that easy taking him off of it, especially given the fact that the same five guys have all been playing together on the top unit as well for years now.
For the sake of this article, I’ll say he wins the first power-play role job at some point and thrives on it. I’ll also say he registers his third 50-point season – the first one since the 2017-18 season (67 points) – and scores more than 10 goals on the season too.
It would be a pretty decent bit of business if Klingberg could put together that kind of performance or at least manage something close to it for just $4.15M this season. It would help Toronto out and, of course, help Klingberg out as well because he is going to be playing for yet another contract after signing his second consecutive one-year deal in free agency.
Whether he re-signs in Toronto after his one-year deal is up – which I highly doubt he will – or he signs elsewhere once free agency hits next year, it could be a massive win-win for both the player and the team as the Maple Leafs look to improve off of last year and take another step in the playoffs.
(All stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
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