Comparing the defense corps in Toronto when Dubas took over in 2018 to what we have in 2023-24

Published September 19, 2023 at 1:53 PM
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

When Kyle Dubas took over the GM duties of the Leafs for the 2018-2019 season, one look at the build of the blueline will make you realize how much weight Morgan Rielly carried. Dubas inherited a blue that consisted of Rielly, Ron Hainsey, Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsev, Travis Dermott and Igor Ozhiganov.

Of those six, Rielly is the only one still with the Leafs while two are no longer in the NHL (Hainsey retired), one has been injured for two seasons and another has still not lived up to the "top-4" potential, despite signing a big contract. Dubas was able to rid the Leafs of Zaitsev's poor defensive play and massive contract in a trade with Ottawa and added Jake Muzzin later in the season, but when you compare the blueline he inherited to the one that new GM Brad Treliving inherited, fans should not be as worried as they are.


I understand the concerns about the blueline being good when it comes to the playoffs, but when it comes to the regular season, the Leafs will be just fine on the back end. Jake McCabe will have time to fully learn Sheldon Keefe's systems, T.J. Brodie and Morgan Rielly will likely bounce back from sub-par, injury-plagued seasons and Timothy Liljegren looks poised to take another step forward in his development. The Leafs are also hoping that the addition of John Klingberg will take some of the offensive pressures off of Rielly and although he has his defensive inefficiencies, he should perform better on a better defensive team and provide a substantial boost in offense coming in for the departing Justin Holl.


Given that Treliving believes in big, physical defensemen, it won't be suprising when he adds one or two for the playoffs, but there is no rush for him to do so, barring a significant injury. The Leafs' blueline is in much better shape than it was in 2018 when Kyle Dubas came in. In that sense, we probably owe Dubas a huge debt of gratitude.
POLL
September 19   |   208 answers
Comparing the defense corps in Toronto when Dubas took over in 2018 to what we have in 2023-24

Do you believe the current Leafs D corps is better than what Kyle Dubas inherited in 2018?

Absolutely9043.3 %
Maybe, but not by much8239.4 %
No, they're worse2913.9 %
No comment73.4 %
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