Leafs reporter drops a bold prediction for where a new Leaf starts the year in Toronto

Mike Armenti
September 8, 2023  (12:06)

When Leafs GM Brad Treliving signed John Klingberg to a 1-year, $4.15M deal this summer, there were a lot of puzzled looks on the faces of fans, as Klingberg wasn't the hard-nosed, physical defenseman that the Leafs lost in Luke Schenn.

Fans were upset knowing that Treliving committed such a large chunk of the team's salary cap on a defensive liability who has seen his offense dry up in recent seasons. The truth is, though, that Klingberg's season last year in Anaheim was largely unimpressive due to the Ducks being a bottom-feeder. He performed much better during his short stint in Minnesota and it stands to reason that he'll be even better surrounded by the talent in Toronto.
Earlier this month, I asked Sportsnet's Luke Fox the following question:
"What do you think the likelihood is that John Klingberg steps in and takes Morgan Rielly's spot on the top power-play unit?"
Fox pointed to Sheldon Keefe and Guy Boucher's usage for Klingberg as one of the more intriguing storylines that we should be following in training camp. He also broke down Rielly and Klingberg's numbers on the power play over their careers.
"Since Rielly entered the league, he has 13 power-play goals and 139 power-play points in 719 games.

Over that same span, Klingberg has 21 power-play goals and 158 power-play points in 619 games." - Fox on the comparison between Rielly and Klingberg with the man advantage

Fox also pointed to Rielly's status as an alternate captain and as a "heart-and-soul leader" on the team, suggesting that Rielly has a tremendous amount of security. He also pointed to the fact that Klingberg had already discussed where the Leafs see him in the lineup prior to him agreeing to sign a deal with the Leafs.
"Especially with Sheldon, I think we're on the same page of how we both look at how my game is when it's at its best. And, obviously, I think my game brings a lot of offence, especially probably on the power play as well," - Klingberg's comments from earlier this summer

Fox concluded in his reply to Maple Leafs Insider that he does indeed see Klingberg on the Leafs' top powerplay unit to begin the season. He cautioned, though, that it would be up to Klingberg to excel in the opportunity he's given. If he can't do that, then I'm sure we'll see Rielly right back on that top unit with Klingberg quarterbacking the team's 2nd PP unit.
"My bet: Klingberg starts on PP1 to make him feel welcome (remember the Tyson Barrie debacle?) and it'll be up to the right shot to keep that gig." - Fox on his expectations for Klingberg to begin the season

Klingberg is only 1 season removed from a 47-point campaign in Dallas. He also notched a career-high 67 points in 82 games with the Stars back in 2017-18. He's shown himself over the years to be a very productive defender, especially on the man advantage. Hopefully he can rediscover some of his magic in Toronto this season.
Leafs reporter drops a bold prediction for where a new Leaf starts the year in Toronto

Do you think Klingberg will slot in on the Leafs' top PP unit to begin the season?

Yes25771.8 %
No10128.2 %
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