“There’s been some inconsistency in our game”- Brad Treliving talks Maple Leafs at the quarter mark

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
3 months ago
It seems to be a rare occurrence to get Brad Treliving out in front of the Maple Leafs media and as the quarter mark of the season approaches, Brad made himself available to speak on a number of topics including the status of John Klingberg, the Nylander contract, and potential trade targets, as well as the Leafs performance to date.
More than anything else it is important to get a sense of how Brad Treliving has viewed the Maple Leafs performance to date. It’s hard to know what direction he truly wants to go in without it and from the above quote, it does not appear he’s overly impressed with the Leafs so far.
The hit or miss piece certainly fits with the Maple Leafs record and the first quarter of the season was certainly expected to be a little lacklustre as the team adjusts to a new GM, new coaches, new teammates, and new systems. While a lot of that comes across as making an excuse for the Maple Leafs and they are far from the only team to go through it, the Leafs underperforming to their contender expectations is concerning and there has been noticeable inconsistency in the top line, in goal, and there have been very few games, if any where the Maple Leafs have dominated from start to finish.
While this is a bit of a nothing comment from Treliving and gives no specific insights into his concerns, it also didn’t come with any votes of confidence for anyone in the Leafs organization.
The first Klingberg quote gives a bit of a timeline for knowing what will be going on with Klingberg and perhaps most importantly what the Maple Leafs can do from a cap relief perspective. If John Klingberg chooses to undergo surgery and he has a recovery period beyond this season, the $4.15M of cap relief that Toronto is presently utilizing will become permanent and free the Leafs up to make a substantial addition.
In the event that Klingberg is going to hold off and see what can be done through therapy, potentially there will be a timeline attached to that as well.
As for highlighting October 19th as the injury and that it wasn’t that they signed an injured player, this feels like Brad Treliving trying to cover his own tracks and save face. What’s important to remember is that John Klingberg wasn’t good last year or for much of the season before that and spending $4.15M on Klingberg was still a bad idea. And Klingberg did not look good in the games leading up to October 19th either.
They’re working on it.
So two different thoughts on the Maple Leafs looking for defensive help. The first quote tweeted out by Luke Fox definitely feeds into the speculation frenzy that is only going to get worse if John Klingberg is shutdown for the season and Toronto has the ability to make moves quickly. Capfriendly says there are 501 active defencemen under contract in the NHL, so when you factor in the ones under contract with the Maple Leafs and the ones too far down the AHL/ECHL depth chart to be considered, we’re probably looking at around 300-400 cases of “here’s a guy” between now and the trade deadline.
The second quote shared by Terry Koshan is a bit more about the Maple Leafs figuring things out and historically this is Brad Treliving’s in season approach. I don’t think he’s wrong when leans towards help within the organization and you can look at someone like William Lagesson as a bit of a success story and the pending return of Timothy Liljegren should help as well. There is also a bit of a need to see what Conor Timmins can do when he’s fully back up to speed and still some need to know what Jake McCabe and Mark Giordano are at this point before knowing the extent that the Maple Leafs need help. But back to the first quote on the defence, it does seem pretty clear that external help is required.
The other option is to coach your way out of issues, so it would be interesting to know what Brad Treliving thinks about the coaching staff’s ability to do that.
This quote does fit with what we’ve seen from Brad Treliving and what he has stated about in season trades before. The offseason is the GM’s time to build the team and in season the team needs to work with what they’ve been given. If Klingberg is going to be shut down that obviously makes an addition an expectation, but it remains far more likely that Brad Treliving is going to expect Sheldon Keefe to correct what is going on.
Brad Treliving also does have a bit of a reputation as a window shopper when significant players are made available. That’s likely why we heard about Toronto kicking tires on Kane and that’s why it wasn’t overly difficult to connect Treliving to Zadorov even before he requested a trade.
The fact that Brad Treliving historically hasn’t made a move this early in the season doesn’t mean it won’t happen and the fact that the Tyler Toffoli acquisition in Calgary was his biggest in season move doesn’t mean that he can’t top it in Toronto. It is just important to remember that last season the Calgary Flames were a team that had playoff expectations, the wheels came off early and Brad Treliving stuck with his roster and coach throughout the entirety of the season to get it right. Set your expectations accordingly.
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