Johnston: Brad Treliving is ‘encouraged’ by what he sees from the Leafs following the deadline

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
30 days ago
The NHL General Manager meetings are currently underway in Palm Beach, Florida, and among the topics being discussed are the Department of Player Safety and the standard that comes with it along with discussion about the current playoff format, something that seems to come up every year only for Gary Bettman to brush it off and talk about how everything is fine.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a GM meeting without some tidbits on the Leafs, and the folks over at First Up on TSN 1050 rallied NHL insider Chris Johnston to gather some intel from Leafs GM Brad Treliving on the state of the team as well as a relative non-update on Mitch Marner’s high ankle sprain.
When asked if there was anything Treliving had to say about the Leafs following the deadline and his first nine months with the team, he kept it pretty simple.
“He’s 8-9 months into his time now as the GM, when you’re on this side of the trade deadline I think it’s a period where you can reflect, and the impression that I came away with from that conversation with Brad was that he’s really encouraged with where the team has got to the past 6-8 weeks in particular, coming back from the all-star break they didn’t have a big cushion on the playoffs, and they’ve gone on a nice run here, 15-5-1 going into tonight’s game in Philly.”
Amidst that nice little run was a seven-game winning streak, and in net for five of those seven wins was goaltender Ilya Samsonov. You wouldn’t think Samsonov’s name would have been at the forefront of a sentence like that, but he’s had a stunning bounceback after taking some much-needed time away from the Leafs to rebuild his mental game. He didn’t play any games during his stint with the Marlies, and it would appear that they took the best possible route to salvage some of his game – one that doesn’t involve stopping pucks. Johnston touched on Samsonov’s rebound, and also confirmed what many of us suspected about the Leafs’ conservative trade deadline.
“We talked about some of the decisions they made to help rebuild Ilya Samsonov and that’s obviously worked out with the way he’s bounced back. It was kind of a weird trade deadline period where in a perfect world maybe they would have liked to be swinging for the fences a little more but there weren’t those types available and ultimately his focus here is the Leafs ramping up for a playoff run that hopefully goes a little further than his predecessor.”
It’s fair to assume that Treliving is not going to want to go into next season with Ilya Lyubushkin on his top pair. We’ve seen what kind of defensive corps he likes on his teams, seeing the group he assembled on the Calgary Flames during his time there, but sometimes those moves can’t be completed at the deadline. I’d imagine he wants to get a better look at the cap situation this summer before making any bone-shaking moves, and considering the Leafs still have their first-round pick for this season along with all of their top prospects, there should be plenty of leeway for him to pull off a trade this summer regardless of where this team goes in the playoffs.
In terms of Marner’s injury, Johnston essentially echoed what Keefe said at practice yesterday regarding the injury; it’s not severe to the point that he’s unable to play, but it hasn’t been progressing as smoothly as they hoped, and they prefer he let it heal properly so that he’s fully healthy by the time the playoffs roll around. He’s also alluded to the fact that it might be the sort of thing Marner tried to battle through if they were in the playoffs. Instead, they want to let him recover during the regular season so that he doesn’t have to miss significant time when the games matter most.
The Leafs face the Flyers tonight and head to Washington D.C. on Wednesday night for the second half of their back-to-back against the Capitals. While they’re more than likely going to end up finishing third in the division given the way the standings are right now, there’s plenty of time for them to make a meaningful run and secure home-ice advantage.
You can listen to Chris Johnston’s full interview on TSN 1050’s ‘First Up’ here.

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