Net Presence: John Tavares
Tavares does a lot of things very well, but perhaps one of his most unique skills is his ability to take a beating in front of the net and still find a way to put the puck past the goalie. His net presence is a key aspect of the Leafs power play, frequently drawing the defence to him down low which allows Matthews and Marner to do their work from the perimeter.
Tavares understands how to take a hit to make a play. The captain does a lot very well for Toronto, perhaps nothing better than creating offence from in tight.
Heart: Morgan Rielly
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Finally, our perfect Leafs player has the heart of the team’s best defenceman, Morgan Rielly. The longest tenured Leaf has pushed through injury this year to play big minutes, prompting fellow defenceman Tyson Barrie to call him the ‘heart and soul’ of the team.
Over his time in Toronto, Rielly has done all that has been asked of him, regardless of the team iced around him. By all accounts Rielly is a glue guy in the locker room, a guy that other players look to for leadership and to boost morale.
Rielly is similar to Tavares in that he does a lot well. However it’s his heart that earns a spot on this player.
There you have it – my perfect Leafs player: Matthews’ wrist/snap shot, Kapanen’s skating, Nylander’s puck carrying, Muzzin’s toughness, Marner’s vision and hockey IQ, Hyman’s work rate, Tavares’ net presence, and Rielly’s heart. Yeah, that combination of attributes creates a pretty dominant hockey player. What combination makes your perfect player?