Morgan Rielly surprised with how skilled one of the Leafs' new forwards actually is

Mike Armenti
September 28, 2023  (12:34)

The Maple Leafs did not break up the core this summer, much to the surprise of many who felt as though a change was needed following another early playoff exit. Instead, they replaced GM Kyle Dubas with Brad Treliving, who decided to keep the core intact and surround them with a bit of a different flavour.

Treliving prioritized bringing in players with some snarl and "snot" to their game, starting with Ryan Reaves on Day 1 of free agency. He then shifted to a couple of players with more skill-oriented bite in Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Obviously, the Leafs were missing that element last season, as many teams viewed the Leafs as a softer team who was not all that difficult to play against if they could find ways to shut down the skill. Now, with the additions of Reaves, Bertuzzi and Domi, that will be much more difficult for the opposition to do.
On Wednesday, Morgan Rielly was asked what he thought about Bertuzzi in specific. Naturally, Rielly was very complementary of his new teammate, but admitted that his idea of what Bertuzzi would be versus what he actually brings to the table are two very different things.
"Way more skilled than I thought. More talent than I thought. He competes and he plays hard around the net and he has that style of play that we all know him for in terms of (being) strong on the puck, good hands around the net, gritty. But I think he's more talented than I ever thought." - Rielly on Bertuzzi

Typically, with some of those feisty players, their ferocity and intensity can sometimes take away from their skill. With Bertuzzi, Rielly doesn't see him sacrificing any skill with how hard he plays, which he appears to be quite impressed by.
This is quite the endorsement from Rielly, who has been around the league for quite awhile. Will adding players like Bertuzzi and Domi be the difference between winning in the playoffs and coming up short? That remains to be seen, but it's pretty encouraging to know that the players in Toronto are aware of the fact that guys like Bertuzzi bring something different to the table that the team desperately needed.
Morgan Rielly surprised with how skilled one of the Leafs' new forwards actually is

Which new Leaf are you most excited to see on opening night?

Max Domi15225.9 %
Tyler Bertuzzi36963 %
Ryan Reaves569.6 %
John Klingberg91.5 %
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