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Keefe Explains Maple Leafs Putting Klingberg on Top Power Play Unit

The Toronto Maple Leafs are entrusting defenseman John Klingberg with a pivotal role on their first unit power play. Why?

In a strategic move set to reshape their power play dynamics, the Toronto Maple Leafs are entrusting defenseman John Klingberg with a pivotal role on their first unit power play. The newly appointed assistant coach, Guy Boucher, is spearheading this initiative as the Leafs hit the ice for their practice sessions at training camp.

Klingberg, renowned for his offensive prowess, is poised for what the Leafs are hoping is a bounce-back season of individual success following a challenging previous year split between the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. However, the decision to elevate Klingberg to the top power-play unit isn’t a direct attempt to overhaul a power-play that impressively clinched the second spot in the league last season. Instead, it’s a strategic maneuver to alleviate some of the workload on Morgan Rielly, who will now anchor the second unit.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe said the Maple Leafs know what it looks like to have Rielly quarterbacking things. What they don’t know is what improvements might come from putting the right-shot Klingberg on that unit. Keefe said they can go back to Rielly at any time.

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Speaking about the transition, Klingberg conveyed that Coach Boucher intends to maintain the core elements of Toronto’s successful power play from the past couple of seasons while introducing an element of chaos in front of the net. If nothing else, it gives the Leafs two different looks. By harnessing Klingberg’s offensive strengths, the Leafs aim to maximize his contribution to the team.

Klingberg’s signing on a one-year, $4.5 million deal underscores Toronto’s pursuit of enhanced offensive capabilities from their blue line this season. Hoping he’s a clear offensive upgrade on Jake McCabe, Klingberg is poised to make a significant impact in Toronto’s quest for offensive excellence. He may still take second-pair or third-pair minutes 5-v-5, but spot duty in opportunistic situations could help his numbers.

As the Leafs embark on this strategic shift, hockey enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the unfolding of a potentially game-changing chapter in the team’s power play playbook, keeping a close eye on Klingberg’s role as he aims to light up the scoreboard from the blue line.

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