Can Mark Giordano Regain His Regular Role in the Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup?

With the wily veteran finally back from his injury, will he be able to keep his spot in the everyday lineup for the Leafs?

Jan 18, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano (55)
Jan 18, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano (55) / Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
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When Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano crashed into the boards following a rush and struggled to get up in a game against Arizona Coyotes on February, he ended up suffering a concussion on play.

At the time, many had wondered whether Giordano had played his last game as a Toronto Maple Leafs given his age and the severity of the impact.

However, after a few weeks of recovery time, Giordano finally made his return to the lineup after skating with the team in recent days.

But even when back to full health, will the Leafs still have a regular role for the 18-year veteran going forward?

Can Mark Giordano Regain His Regular Role in the Toronto Maple Leafs Lineup?

After all, the Leafs have added two hard-nosed players in Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson prior to the trade deadline to strengthen their defense corps. In doing so, the Leafs practically have a set starting five for the rest of the season.

First of all, Morgan Rielly and Jake McCabe are main cogs for the Leafs defense, so they are must-starts. Timothy Liljegren has done enough in improving and developing his game both offensively and defensively the past couple of seasons and should be a mainstay going forward. He has been in the Leafs top-four by minutes-per-game in the last two months, and unlike Brodie hasn't been healthy scratched. This is a pretty clear-cut top-three at this point.

The physical presence and toughness of both Lyubushkin and Edmundson should keep them in the everyday lineup as well on most nights, unless they need a maintenance day.

Which leaves the likes of T.J. Brodie, Simon Benoit, Conor Timmins and Giordano to fight it out for the remaining spot(s) down the stretch. Brodie has struggled mightily this season, compiling a CF% of 49.4%, an expected goals rate of 48.5% and scoring chances rate of 49% at 5-on-5 this season, by far his lowest numbers in quite some time. He has also recorded a giveaway-to-takeaway ratio close to 2.3 to 1, making this one of the worst seasons of his career.

In the case for Benoit, he has been steady whenever called upon, holding a CF% of 50% and an expected goals and scoring chances rate at 51% at 5-on-5. So he doesn’t hurt the Leafs, but at the same time doesn’t help too much either. On the other hand Timmins, much known more for his offensive puck-moving ability, has registered a stellar CF% of 55%, and an expected goals rate and scoring chances rate of 58% in 5-on-5 situations, tilting the ice heavily in the Leafs favour in his limited playing time so far this season.

In comparison, the supposedly ageless Giordano has actually fared decently in the 38 games that he has suited up for the blue and white this season, maintaining a 53.6 CF% along with an expected goals rate of 52.4% and scoring chances rate of 57.3% at 5-on-5. However, recall his effectiveness eventually waned last season heading into the playoffs because of his over usage during the regular season, as it caught up to him.

So given his veteran presence and leadership that he brings to the Leafs lineup on the ice, along with the numbers shown above, Giordano should be able to draw back in regularly to continue to be a reliable force in the back end. He certainly made a firm statement of wanting to stay in the lineup by scoring in his very first game back from injury.

However, it would be wise for the Leafs to monitor his playing time accordingly, along with giving him rest days along the way to fully maximize his abilities heading into the playoffs. And for those days he needs the rest, Timmins would be the ideal replacement to keep the Leafs attack to its fullest potential. As for both Brodie and Benoit, they should be used more sparingly based on any potential injuries or load management for the back end down the stretch. (All stats from naturalstattrick.com)

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Hopefully, with the appropriate deployment of Giordano, we will see him back to being the monster that he usually is for the Leafs playoff run.