Analyst says Maple Leafs need to move Morgan Rielly, not Mitch Marner

Ryan Smitheram
May 30, 2024  (2:29 PM)

Morgan Rielly
Photo credit: Maple Leafs/X

Long-time reporter John Shannon revealed this morning that he believes the Leafs would benefit more from trading Morgan Rielly than trading Mitch Marner.

While he doesn't quite make Mitch Marner money, Morgan Rielly is entering the third year of an 8-year deal he signed in October of 2021 that carries a cap hit of $7.5M per season.
A staple on the Leafs blueline since 2013, the former fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft has seen and been through it all. Throughout his career, many analysts have said that he is not a true number one defenseman and is more of a 'two', but in his time with the Leafs, the team has never acquired a true number one or, in reality, a true top-pairing defenseman to play with him long-term. Yes, he has had long-term partners like TJ Brodie, but no one that can have a truly major impact on a game.
On 'Leafs Morning Take' today, long-time reporter John Shannon was a guest and was asked if the Leafs should take a big swing and trade Marner. Shannon however, believes that the biggest change would be trading Rielly.
"Eight [years] is enough with this group. When you dig deep, those four forwards are they the real problem in the end? Aren't there more symptoms of a team that relishes in mediocrity in the playoffs that should really improve somewhere else, like in goal...And then you have to look at the defense. I think Simon Benoit was really good, but I don't think the Leafs need four Simon Benoits.

The guy that I think should be moved - more conversation should occur, is Morgan Rielly. You were talking about cap space, and it won't be as much cap space as Marner, but if you can move Rielly and find something for him, that to me, makes a ton more sense because their defense is just not good enough. Period. Their offense might be good enough, but their defense is not."

For the Leafs to trade their best defenseman to upgrade their blueline seems like an oxymoron. By trading Rielly, the defense gets even worse and the chances of getting a return of equal or greater value seem very slim.
While moving Rielly would guarantee at least $7.5M in cap space going forward until the end of the 2029-2030 season, moving Marner guarantees even more, which can be spent to create a better balanced roster.
MAY 30   |   487 ANSWERS
Analyst says Maple Leafs need to move Morgan Rielly, not Mitch Marner

Do you think the Leafs should trade Morgan Rielly?

Absolutely not, it makes no sense25752.8 %
Yes, he is nothing spectacular23047.2 %
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