2 Toronto Maple Leafs defending men to watch injuries really pile up

Happy New Year, leaf nation. The Toronto Maple Leafs opened the 2022-23 season this week with media day in the books and the team hitting the ice at the opening of their snowboard training camp. While this is expected to be a huge season for the hockey club, it doesn’t take off on the right foot.

Injuries have really reared their ugly head and we haven’t even seen the pre-season game yet. Defenseman Timothy Liljegren is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia, meanwhile, it was announced on Thursday that Jake Muzzin is Dealing with a back injury And he won’t be on the ice at all this week. Consider the fact that Rasmus Sandin is not with the team due to a contract dispute and that the Leafs’ blue streak is dwindling at a rapid pace.

Here are a couple of backers from Maple Leafs to watch as they stand a great chance of progressing to open this new season.

Mark Giordano

Group Chief Mark Giordano re-signed with the Maple Leafs this past season and is on his way to retirement as Maple Leaf. While his Norris Cup winning days are behind him, Geo is a big part of the team’s blue streak for a number of different reasons. It provides leadership and veteran experience, which has had a huge positive impact on the likes of Liljegren and Sandin.

As a member of the Calgary Flames, Mark Giordano won the Norris Cup (Canadian Press / AP-John Locher)

While the leadership aspect is a nice touch, Giordano brings a lot to the table for Maple Leafs. His versatility will be relied heavily on to open the season as with Liljegren out and Sandin still sitting at home, look for ‘Gio’ to play in Toronto’s right-hand side. It’s not ideal to have just one right-handed player in the squad with Justin Hall, however, with T.J. Brody and Giordano’s experience playing on both sides, the team will be able to handle absences better than most teams.

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The veteran appeared in 20 games with the Maple Leafs last season and played an average of 19:12 of ice time per night. Giordano has been used in both penalties and power play and much of the same can be expected this season. His impact was felt early on and often in 2021-22, so look for something similar to start the 2022-23 campaign. If he is unable to advance to the start of the new season, Toronto’s defense or lack of it will be greatly exposed.

Jordi Ben

Speaking of veteran defenders, Jordi signed a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs last summer as the 35-year-old looks to join him in Toronto. While the chance will likely be slim to say the least, now with injuries and Sandin’s contract status, Ben will be thrown into the fire.

Jordi Benn Vancouver Canucks
Jordi Bean, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvine/The Hockey Book)

The good news for Leafs Nation is that Benn has been in the area and knows what he is capable of during the later stages of his career. He’s appeared in 595 NHL games and is at his best when he keeps it simple, makes a clear first pass and plays physically.

While Giordano could help fill in some crime that Liljegren wouldn’t contribute, don’t expect the same from Benn. He is more than a solid defender at home and will never go out of his way. Strikes, blocking shots and a fight or two are more than you would expect to see from his game. It would be very important for him to make an impression in the camp while he had the opportunity. If the squad is perfectly healthy, he probably does not make up the team.

Maple leaves need a complete compliment to succeed

Injuries play a major role in all of the team’s seasons, and it looks like the Maple Leafs will be tested early in 2022-23. Regardless, general manager Kyle Dupas needs to re-sign Sanden and lock him up for the season, without the player missing much of training camp and falling a step behind.

Rasmus Sandin Toronto Maple Leafs
Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvine/The Hockey Book)

Justin Hall is a pretty big wildcard, and if Muzzin’s backhand problem catches on all season, the team could have big problems if Sandin isn’t in the mix. Mete and Benn will help but they are short term fixes not long term solutions.

At the end of the day, Maple Leafs will be at their best with Sandin, Muzzin and Liljegren all in the lineup, along with Giordano, Morgan Rielly and Brodie. Hall must be the strange man if they are to find the promised land. At the moment the team would like to see everyone healthy and available, which is certainly not the case for Dubas and his company to start this season.

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