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Carlyle: Gleason’s ‘a big strong guy that can move the puck’

Jan 1, 2014, 6:55 PM EST

TimGleason Getty Images

Randy Carlyle thinks Tim Gleason and the Leafs are a good fit.

Carlyle, speaking at the end of day in which his team won the 2014 Winter Classic and flipped defenseman John-Michael Liles to Carolina, said Gleason’s style should translate well in Toronto.

“With Gleason, we feel that he can come back into a hockey environment where we can support him with the style of play that I think suits his style,” Carlyle said. “We want him to be a guy that can come back in and move the puck. He’s a big man.”

Gleason, 30, is a former first-round pick and veteran of over 600 NHL contests. His best years came between 2005-10 — he made his first and only playoff appearance with Carolina, and represented the U.S. at the Vancouver Winter Olympics — but he’s had a rough go of things over the last few seasons. Injuries (including a broken foot and concussion) have sidelined him at various times, and his average TOI per game has fallen below 16 minutes, his lowest since breaking in as a rookie with the Kings in 2003-04.

Still, Carlyle thinks he can be of use to the Leafs’ back end.

“We just want [Gleason] to make a contribution,” Carlyle said. “His contribution won’t be expected to be a power play guy, won’t be expected to be a defensive guy, but a big strong guy that can move the puck.”

As for the guy going to Carolina — Liles — Carlyle thanked him for being an “excellent pro” and “excellent person” during his time in Toronto, but admitted it was tough getting Liles in the lineup with the emergence of Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner.

Here’s what Leafs GM Dave Nonis had to say about Gleason breaking into the Toronto lineup…

  1. j22j - Jan 1, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    This looks like one of those trades that’s a win for everyone involved. From a Leafs perspective, if Gleason can be a good compliment and steadying influence to one of the young guys (Reilly and Gardiner) it could be a big win. Plus I believe burying Liles in the minors only saved the Leafs 900k of his 3.8 mil salary. Having no salary buried if Gleason is starting will benefit the Leafs in the cap space department also, even at 4 mil.

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