Tall task or not, the Leafs are more than capable of staying afloat without Morgan Rielly in the lineup

Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
2 months ago
Contrary to popular belief, the Leafs are not screwed without Morgan Rielly.
In fact, it’s not outlandish to think that they could spin a negative into a positive by using the situation as a bit of a galvanizing moment that potentially brings the team closer together.
If Florida could go on a monster run after Keith Tkachuk called his son’s team ‘soft’ last spring, why can’t Toronto rally around an act of accountability and pugnacity from one of its leaders?
As Kevin Garnett once yelled after winning his one and only NBA Championship, anything is possible.
Call it wishful thinking but there’s no question that the Leafs have more than enough talent on the roster to stay afloat in the absence of their No. 1 defender.
For starters, even though it’s fair to admit that the composition of the squad was a bit different last season, Toronto somehow managed to go 14-2-1 in 17 outings without Rielly. For the record, they were routinely dressing lineups that featured the likes of Victor Mete, Mac Hollowell, and Conor Timmins.
Translation: It can be done.
Once again, it’s all about buy-in.
Understandably so, the blue line is where everyone will be looking. Initially, it appears Jake McCabe will be assuming Rielly’s role on the first power play unit. On top of that, we’re talking about roughly 25 minutes a night that will now need to be re-allocated elsewhere. Sheldon Keefe will have his work cut out for himself —that’s for sure.
Any way you slice it though, collectively, the d-corps will have to work as one cohesive unit to fill the big-time void. That means more will be asked of Simon Benoit, who unequivocally, has turned out to be an incredible add for Brad Treliving last summer. Additionally, aside from McCabe, T.J. Brodie and Timothy Liljegren, who’ve once again dealt with consistency issues this season, will need to elevate their play.
It’s time to see what this team’s made of.
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