Brad Treliving has a big decision to make
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Why a lengthy suspension for Morgan Rielly may force Brad Treliving's hand

Published February 12, 2024 at 10:02
BY MIKE ARMENTI
The Morgan Rielly/Ridly Greig incident is one of the most hotly-debated topics out there right now and while most of the focus is on how many games Rielly's suspension will be or whether or not Greig deserved what he got for his empty-net clapper, there's another subject entirely that will need to be discussed. What do the Leafs do now, assuming Rielly will miss the next 6 games?

The Leafs have had plenty of struggles with their blueline already this season, be it injury or performance-related. Rielly was undoubtedly, far-and-away the Leafs' best defenseman this season up to this point. Now, without him in the lineup and with the Leafs fighting for their playoff lives in a Wild Card spot, they really cannot afford to drop a bunch of games while Rielly is out.

Assuming that the head of Player Safety, George Parros, drops a 6+ game suspension tomorrow afternoon, that will leave the Leafs with a D corps that looks something like this:

McCabe-Brodie
Benoit-Liljegren
Lagesson-Timmins


Certainly less than ideal when you've got Tampa sitting 1 point ahead of you, Detroit tied with you, and the Islanders, Devils and Capitals nipping at your heels for a Wild Card spot.

Will Rielly's suspension force Leafs GM Brad Treliving's hand in trade negotiations? It very well might. We already know that the Leafs are looking at a number of defensemen who are rumoured to be available, including Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin out of Calgary and Jakob Chychrun out of Ottawa. There are other names on the list, but in terms of someone who can come in and instantly fill Rielly's minutes and do a satisfactory job right out of the gate for the Leafs, those are probably the 3 names at the top of the list.

Treliving and company have a big decision to make, knowing Rielly is likely going to miss some time here. Yes, the Leafs' next 5 games aren't extremely tough outs, as they play St. Louis twice and Anaheim, Philadelphia and Arizona once each over that span. However, going into these games with the 6 defensemen listed above, it's not exactly giving your team the best chance to win and create some separation in the standings.

The March 8th trade deadline is now less than a month away, and right about now is when the Leafs have historically ramped up their efforts to get a deal done anyway, so perhaps we'll see Treliving put his sword to the grindstone this week and get a deal done. If he doesn't, the Leafs are going to need to play extra cautious from here on out until Rielly gets back to avoid dropping games and giving up some ground to the other playoff contenders in the East.

POLL
12 February   |   637 answers
Why a lengthy suspension for Morgan Rielly may force Brad Treliving's hand

Will Brad Treliving pull off a trade for a defenseman, knowing that Morgan Rielly will be sitting for a lengthy stretch of games?

Yes, they need another D-man now37558.9 %
No, he'll continue to be patient26241.1 %
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