The Toronto Maple Leafs’ defence has been tested this regular season. However, it has weathered the storm. During the first quarter of the regular season, four of the top seven defensemen were injured. None of the four have returned yet.
Still, the team is not only surviving but it is playing well. The Maple Leafs are 7-0-3 in their last 10 games. They had an incredible November – especially given the injuries to the defence but also the goalies. It was the best in team history with 25 points.
If nothing, the team is resilient. In this post, I want to share thoughts about Mark Giordano. For my money, he’s the key to this team’s defence and the biggest impact on the team moving forward.
What a Pickup Mark Giordano Has Been
When Mark Giordano was traded to the team at last season’s trade deadline, it made sense. There wasn’t much certainty about Jake Muzzin‘s status or his future. This season, there’s more certainty. However, that certainty doesn’t come with good news.
Muzzin’s injuries have persisted and he’s out for an extended length of time. He might not return this season or even next season.
Fortunately, after last season, Giordano wanted to stay with the team. He re-signed on a team-friendly $800,000 contract. Even better, Giordano has played amazingly good hockey. I can’t imagine how the team would have weathered its injury situation without him.
Giordano Has Been a Solid Contributor to The Maple Leafs
Having Giordano on the team has helped the team in a myriad of ways. He’s a steady and reliable mentor. Having such a strong veteran defenseman (and a strong presence in the locker room) like Giordano who is signed at such a small salary-cap hit is like finding the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Not only did Giordano’s signing answer some of the defensive issues Muzzin’s absence created, but it helped throughout the organization (and throughout the NHL). It matters that Giordano wants to be in Toronto and everyone knows it.
A Reader Comments on Giordano’s Impact
As a reader from The Hockey Writers WJ BIG noted, Giordano “has been a Godsend.” The reader believed that Giordano had taken up the reins from Jason Spezza as an NHL veteran star “who wants to finish his career with his hometown team, and can still provide some quality hockey and a lot of leadership.”
Giordano has both had to and has been able to have a far more impact than even Spezza has had so far. Partly, that’s because Giordano spends more time on the ice as a defenseman. Partly, it’s because the team’s needs have been greater and Giordano’s been called on more to address them.
That he’s been able to do so might become one of the storylines for this team if it goes further into the postseason.
Giordano’s Impact on His First-Pairing Partner Justin Holl
Perhaps the most significant impact Giordano has had has been partnering with Justin Holl. Playing with Giordano, Holl has played some of the best hockey of his career. He’s been able to play within his abilities, and he’s proven to be physical, steady, and dependable.
With Giordano’s help, Holl has brought his “A” game!
In short, it’s not too much of an overstatement to state that Mark Giordano has helped to save the Maple Leafs 2022-23 season thus far.