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Tanev Could Finally Be The Right Fit For Rielly

July 10, 2024, 5:27 PM ET [131 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have for over a decade been searching for the right defensive partner for Morgan Rielly. The offensive-minded blueliner through the Babcock years has been paired with veteran Ron Hainsey, with a youngster like Timothy Liljegren, with Jake McCabe for a few games and for most of the last four years with TJ Brodie, but GM Brad Treliving may have finally found the right fit and compliment in Chris Tanev.

The 34-year-old Toronto native signed a six-year, $27 million deal with the Leafs on July 1 and although admittedly it will be up to new coach Craig Berube when training camp starts, it is likely that the shot-blocking, minutes-eating defenseman will be paired with the longest-tenured Leaf.

“I played with Morgan at the Worlds a couple years ago and I think we both enjoyed it quite well,” Tanev said on TSN 1050’ Overdrive on Tuesday. “We had some success and the team did well so I definitely think we complement each other on and off the ice.”

If that is the plan for 2024-25, Toronto would have their best top pairing in years, and it would give the Leafs blueline the depth that they have been lacking for years, allowing Timothy Liljegren to partner with fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and maintaining the unexpectedly effective pairing of Jake McCabe and Simon Benoit.

It is unclear what the future of Conor Timmins is with the Leafs. The 25-year-old was the star of last year’s exhibition season but as has often been the case, he was injured late in camp and missed the first month. From that point, he was in and out of the lineup, scoring 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in 25 games.

The St. Catherines native could be a fit as Toronto’s seventh defenseman. It is possible if GM Brad Treliving is looking to shed his $1.1 million salary, that he could find a team willing to take him off of his hands, but Timmins is under control for one more season after his contract expires and could be seen as an inexpensive hole-plugger if someone gets injured.


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