It hasn’t taken long for Tim Gleason to make an impact with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The man acquired for John-Michael Liles from the Carolina Hurricanes wasn’t expected to contribute much. When Gleason first arrived in Toronto, it seemed Randy Carlyle was about as thrilled with putting him in the lineup as he was with putting Liles in the lineup as Gleason sat multiple games before finally suiting up. However, ever since he’s put on the blue and white, Gleason has slowly been showing what he can provide the Maple Leafs on a nightly basis.
It was a rocky start for Gleason in Toronto, especially with how quickly Liles made an impact with the Hurricanes. Liles couldn’t crack the Maple Leafs’ lineup but nearly the moment he put on a Carolina jersey he became a plus-rated player who produced offensively. Meanwhile Gleason was a minus-four rating in his first three games with the Maple Leafs.
However, now that he’s been with the team for nearly a month, Gleason is looking a lot more comfortable with his new club. He’s excelling in a defensive role playing alongside Toronto’s offensive-minded defensemen. Gleason has become the dependable rock on the blue-line that the Maple Leafs have been missing since Mark Fraser hasn’t been the same player he was last season.
Without question, Gleason has had an immediate impact with his ability to routinely sacrifice his body by blocking multiple shots a game. Gleason was on the ice in the final minute of a 4-3 win on the road against the Boston Bruins where he blocked two shots as the Bruins desperately attempted to tie the game. Since arriving in Toronto, Gleason has blocked 26 shots in the 13 games he’s played, proving he’s added extra toughness to the Maple Leafs’ blue-line they didn’t have before the trade.
It wasn’t that Liles wasn’t a good player any longer; it was that with younger players like Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly who play a similar style there was no longer a fit for Liles in Toronto. The Maple Leafs needed another defensive-minded defenseman given the multiple offensive-minded defenders already on the roster.
Gleason has fit in well in his short time with Toronto as he’s allowed an offensive-minded defensive partner like Rielly or Cody Franson to have freedom to take chances offensively knowing Gleason will have their backs if something goes wrong.