Not only have the Leafs become tougher to play against, but they've quietly improved in another area as well

Ben Hodgson
July 23, 2023  (8:38)

Snot, grit, sandpaper, piss and vinegar. The focus of the Leafs' off season has been quite clear. Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and Ryan Reaves bring all the aforementioned traits to the table and more. The chart nerds may not like the changes, but for long-time fans who remember the days of Gary Roberts, Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi and the Eastern Conference Finals, the new Leafs are a welcome throwback.

Of course, there's one name that doesn't quite fit that mold. On July 1st, Treliving oversaw a puzzling signing in John Klingberg. An elite offensive defender with little to no defensive ability, Klingberg wasn't on many fans' radar's as a UFA target. What Klingberg's lacks in snot, he makes up for with puck moving prowess and dominance on the man advantage. While Treliving spent a lot of time talking about adding grit and toughness, he quietly augmented the Leafs' already strong powerplay in the process.
If the Leafs were to keep their highly successful PP1 from last season, it would look like this:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I say leave this unit as-is. The problem over the past couple of seasons was that the second unit was a weak group that barely stayed on the ice long enough for the top unit to catch their breath. Now, with the addition of Klingberg, another PP quarterback, they can throw out a second unit that looks like this, assuming Nick Robertson's run of brutal injury luck is finally over and he makes the team:
Using the umbrella setup, you'd have Bertuzzi parked on top of the crease, doing what he does best, creating havoc in front of the opposition's goal, Domi in the high slot, Robertson and Knies on the half-walls and Klingberg on the point. That's 3 solid shooting threats, a highly skilled playmaker and one heck of a pest at net-front. This group would prey on opponents' second PK units.
Treliving may not have advertised a revamped and revitalized powerplay when talking about his offseason signings, but there's no doubt in my mind he and Keefe looked at these two groups written down with smiles on their faces. In my opinion, he's done a solid job since taking over the reins. Of course, we know that when something looks good on paper, it may not necessarily translate to on-ice success, so we should temper our expectations until we see that 2nd unit out there, but I do believe that it's an improvement over last year's PP 2.
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Not only have the Leafs become tougher to play against, but they've quietly improved in another area as well

Will Nick Robertson finally become a full time NHLer this season?

Yes14734.9 %
No, he'll be a Marlie4210 %
No, he'll be traded12329.2 %
He'll get hurt again. We all know it.10925.9 %
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