Who knew when the 2023-24 season began that the Toronto Maple Leafs would have this much defensive depth? The Maple Leafs coaches have been both surprised and impressed by the depth of the team’s blue line. It’s forcing them to make several tough decisions with Mark Giordano returning to the roster and lineup after his broken finger.

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The Maple Leafs find themselves in a pleasantly unexpected predicament as they welcome the return of Giordano from his injury. Head Coach Sheldon Keefe shared insights into the team’s current depth of defensemen, highlighting the surprising performances of players like William Lagesson, Connor Timmons and Simon Benoit, who have seamlessly filled crucial roles in the lineup.

The Defense Brings Several Welcome Aspects to the Team

Lagesson and Benoit have added aspects to the team that were needed. They even have a little bit of jam, which has surprised the coaching staff and fans. It’s exactly what the team needed. If the team is to have a good long run, it doesn’t hurt to have enough good depth players so that people can sit out and have a bit of a rest. That will happen soon with Giordano who, with his age, looked mighty tired in last year’s postseason.

Right now, Keefe is happy to have his aging defenseman back in the lineup. He acknowledges Giordano’s valuable contribution to the team, emphasizing his ability to move the puck efficiently through all three zones. Still, as the veteran defenseman returns to game action, Keefe will make tough lineup decisions. As noted, that’s a good thing and simply shows how well the depth players have played.

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The Maple Leafs Defence Has Exceeded Expectations

Initially viewed with uncertainty during the preseason, the defensive depth, including players who have been playing with the AHL Toronto Marlies, has exceeded expectations. Timmons, Lagesson, and Benoit have surpassed the coaching staff’s expectations, showing improvement with each game.

Conor Timmins, Maple Leafs

The unexpected rise of these players has added a layer of competitiveness and flexibility to the Maple Leafs’ defensive lineup. Keefe notes that the coaching staff might have been unsure about the team’s defensive depth during the preseason, but the emerging players’ talent has undeniably impacted the team. The competitive spirit and continuous improvement displayed by the team’s defence have proven crucial in defining the team’s defensive strategies.

Welcome Back to Giordano on the Maple Leafs Blue Line

It will be good to see Giordano back in action. However, his impending return now poses a welcome challenge for the coaching staff. With a surplus of capable defensemen, tough lineup decisions became inevitable. Keefe believes that the competition for positions is a testament to the team’s overall strength.

As the Maple Leafs face these challenging (but positive) decisions, the surprising rise of the blue line’s depth has been a testament to the organization’s commitment to signing and developing competitive players. The unexpected depth of the Maple Leafs blue line has exceeded expectations.

The question now is whether the Maple Leafs’ defensive lineup has the skill to carry the team on a long regular-season and even postseason run.

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