Questions for Maple Leafs as Morgan Rielly returns to lineup

Morgan Rielly is moving closer to returning to the ice for the first time since injuring his knee in a game against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21 but Sheldon Keefe must decide how to deploy his first choice defenceman on the power play and the penalty kill.

Video Transcript

- It's been a while since Morgan Rielly played games for the Toronto Maple Leafs. And it looks like that injury era is coming to an end, which begs the question, what is the plan when it comes to Morgan Rielly? I mean, the team has been playing pretty well defensively since he's been out.

Everyone stepped up. Mark Giordano has been a really big-- a really big factor in that. Do you mess with the pairings? Who knows. Another thing, the five-forward power play. I mean, it seems like Sheldon Keefe is pretty committed to going with that. Do you keep Rielly-- do you, you know, bring Rielly back on the top unit?

So I think there are a lot of question marks there. I do think it would be interesting to see the Leafs not mess with that at all. You know, maybe they leave the five-forward power play alone. Give Sandin the second power unit, give him some minutes there. And maybe only hold Rielly to even strength play and to play on the penalty kill.

I think that could be a pretty good way to maximize his time and maximize his efforts, especially if he's re-united back with TJ Brodie, which has been a pair that we know works long term. That could be a way to, you know, not have Rielly have to play like those 26, 27, 30-minute games sometimes.

If he just focus on those two areas and then let the other people on the team focus on driving the offense and such. That's not to say that Rielly's not gonna drive offense. You know, he's been doing that since he laced up for the Toronto Maple Leafs after being drafted.

But I think kind of prioritizing where we're gonna put him in the lineup might be a pretty good way to not only keep this-- keep the level of play the same, but also make the team better.