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Solid defence

DAN CEARNS The Standard

So far, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager, Brad Treliving, has done exactly as he has promised. He has made some solid changes to the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline, adding several new defencemen.

When Treliving was first hired by the Maple Leafs, he identified the defence core as an area of weakness on the team and he has gone about fixing it, putting his stamp on it.

In March, the Leafs general manager acquired, 6 foot 7 inch, defensive defenceman prospect, Cade Webber, from the Carolina Hurricanes, signing him to a two year contract about a month later.

Then, on the opening of NHL free agency, the Leafs signed, longtime defenceman, Chris Tanev to a six-year contract. Tanev has been known for his defensive prowess of blocking shots, and being in the right position to cut off passes and protect the net. Over the years, Tanev has carved out a solid career with the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and most recently in the Dallas Stars’ deep playoff run. He should be the Leafs’ best right shot defenceman they’ve had, in many years, who could give Morgan Rielly a steady defence partner.

That same day, the Leafs signed, former Panther, Canuck and Coyote, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. At 32 years old, Ekman-Larsson brings significant experience to the Leafs’ defence, especially from winning the Stanley Cup, with the Florida Panthers, earlier this year. He does bring some offensive potential to the team’s blueline, as well, having scored nine goals this past season. His career high was 23, during the 2015 season. He also brings decent size to the team’s core as well, standing at 6 foot 2.

The Leafs later added further depth to the position by signing, former Minnesota Wild defenceman, Dakota Mermis.

There have been some reports the Leafs also signed, heavy hitting defenceman, Jani Hakanpaa, but the team has not yet confirmed that.

I think the additions complement some of the other defensive players the Leafs currently have, such as Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe, and it gives, right handed defenceman prospect, Topi Niemela more time to develop as well.

While Treliving has just finished his first full season, as the team’s general manager, it seems he’s already made an impact on forming a formidable group of defencemen. I’m quite confident in saying, this is the best the Leafs’ defence core has looked in my time watching this team.

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