TSN Insider Shares What He Feels Is The Leafs Biggest Problem

Tyler Ball
August 21, 2023  (8:46 PM)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made several major changes this offseason. The biggest being the hiring of Brad Treliving as General Manager. Even with the additions and changes to the organization one major issue still exists according to one insider.

Leafs Biggest Need

The Toronto Maple Leafs have added several new players to their lineup. Most of these additions are to address the need of being tougher to play against. Players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi figure to factor heavily on the roster. However, on defense, the changes have been far less significant.
The only defensive addition that the Leafs have made this offseason is the signing of John Klingberg. While Klingberg will bring a better offensive dynamic to the group his defense is suspect. This adds to the plethora of defensemen who skate well but are underwhelming in their own end.
"My main concern for the Maple Leafs is their defense. What exactly will it look like? If they believe that with the current defense, they can advance through multiple rounds of the playoffs next year, they might be in for a shock. We all saw how they were outplayed by Florida, particularly in front of the net and during the cycle game. I'm skeptical about their current defense's ability to endure a seven-game series against powerhouses like Florida, Tampa, or even unexpected contenders like the Ottawa Senators.

Each year, as the playoffs begin, we're reminded that playoff hockey is a different beast from the regular season. A team might dominate during the regular season but struggled in the playoffs when faced with an equally aggressive opponent. We've seen that with the Boston Bruins.

While many are focused on the offense, I believe the Maple Leafs' forward group is set. My main interest lies in the defensive aspect. Since Brad Treliving took over, he's spoken about rebuilding the blue line. However, if the only significant addition to that line is John Klingberg, I foresee issues. If people thought Morgan Rielly was defensively weak, Klingberg could amplify those concerns. Klingberg's offensive prowess is noteworthy, but his defensive game doesn't generate the same excitement.

I predict Klingberg might become the focal point of criticism for the Maple Leafs, similar to Justin Hall in the past. This seems like a probable scenario.

Regarding the rebuilding of the defense, Treliving's intentions might be clear, but action is needed. They can't possibly think of entering the postseason with a defense comprising Rielly, Brody, Klingberg, McCabe, Liljegren, and Giordano. Adjustments can still be made during the season or even right up to the trade deadline, and I anticipate changes will indeed be made."

What Can The Leafs Do To Improve On Defense?

The Leafs need to add size and physicality on the back end. They reportedly tried to add more physicality at one point by signing veteran Radko Gudas but the deal ultimately fell through. Two teams that may make sense for the Leafs to target are the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. Both are coming off disappointing seasons and will be looking to reshape their rosters. Both teams also have some of the bigger and harder to play against defensemen in the league at the moment.