In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll bounce off the insights THW (The Hockey Writers) readers bring by commenting on the posts that I write.
Thank you to those readers who push my own research and add to my insights about topics that also interest other fans. Every once in a while – even more regularly than I do, I want to show my appreciation by sharing some of these insights.
In today’s post, I’ll talk specifically about the Meple Leafs’ defense. First, I share insights from Waterbuffalo49 about a young New York Rangers’ defenseman who, similar to Rasmus Sandin, is stuck behind a long group of – this time – right-handed defensemen. Second, I’ll share nor’s thoughts about the value that Mark Giordano brings to the Maple Leafs team.
Item One: Could the Maple Leafs Pick Up Nils Lundkvist?
Regularly, as I noted above, readers of a post I write add an idea that really takes me in a different direction. During a recent post, Waterbuffalo49 noted that the New York Rangers have a young defenseman with the same issue that Rasmus Sandin appears to have with the Maple Leafs. However, with the Rangers, it’s the other way around.
As Waterbuffalo49 notes, Nils Lundkvist is almost a mirror image of Sandin. He’s a right-handed young defenseman who can’t seem to find an opportunity to progress through the Rangers system because he’s behind a deep group of right-handed defensemen.
Lundkvist was drafted in the same draft as Sandin (being chosen one pick ahead of Sandin in the first round at 28th overall instead of Sandin’s 29th overall). Lundkvist is a 22-year-old right-handed defenseman who’s 5-foot-11 and 187 pounds. Sandin is also 22 years old and is 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds.
Like Sandin, Lundkvist is just beginning his professional development. He’s played 26 NHL games in contrast to Sandin’s 88 NHL games and Timothy Liljegren’s 64 NHL games. Similar to both Sandin and Liljegren, he’s still learning his defensive game.
But one attraction is that Lundkvist comes with more term on his contract, and he’s waiver exempt. He’s signed to a contract with a salary-cap hit of $925,000 until the end of the 2023-24 season.
Waterbuffalo49 notes that, while he usually hates the idea of the Maple Leafs trading a first-round pick, in this case, he’d support the team moving its 2023 first-round pick to the Rangers for Lundkvist. He believed it would be like drafting a right-handed defenseman who’s already almost halfway through his development curve.
Waterbuffalo49 notes that Lundkvist is an offensive defenseman and a great skater who’s still learning his craft as a defenseman. Because, as it currently stands, Liljegren and Holl are the only right-handed defensemen at the top of the Maple Leafs’ system, Lundkvist would be a great fit. It would allow the team to trade Holl.
Looking down the road, in two more seasons, Muzzin and Brodie’s contracts expire. When that occurred, the Maple Leafs would have Morgan Reilly, Sandin, Liljegren, and Lundkvist as their future blueline. They’d also have Topi Niemala. Niemala would probably then be working to translate his game to the NHL.
Or, in a lesser-case scenario, would the Rangers trade for Sandin? Either way, it was another great insight by aTHW reader; thanks to Waterbuffalo49 for sharing.
Item Two: What Giordano Brings to the Team
Speaking of Maple Leafs’ defensemen, in a recent post I commented how sad it would be if Sandin’s hard negotiating stance forced the team’s hand to a point where it was believed he needed to be moved. If that happened, it seemed to me that Sandin would be missing the possible career chance of a lifetime.
If he took a longer view, he would realize Giordano was only signed for two more seasons. However, during those two seasons, he could take advantage of the veteran defenseman’s knowledge to advance his own career by being taught and mentored by Giordano.
THW reader nor commented that Giordano brings huge value to the team. He settles down the Maple Leafs’ defence. Whatever happens during a shift, a period, or a game is old hat. He’s been through it all. At $800,000, he also brings a voice of reason to other defensemen, goalies, or even other forwards.
nor pointed out that players with Giordano’s experience know when to speak up loudly and know when to say nothing. Because he was the Calgary Flames captain for eight seasons and the Seattle Kraken captain until he was traded, he knows how to pick a player up when he’s down; and, through it all, he keeps the respect of all his teammates.
Giordano is a strong voice in the dressing room and a calming voice if things do not go well in a game. He’s still able to contribute on the ice, even though time has slowed him a bit. For now, he’s a player others look up to and accept his observations.
In short, Giordano is a positive for his own team and is well-respected by other teams. Thanks to nor for his insights about a bargain-priced player who brings great value to the Maple Leafs roster and organization.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs”
The names for different lines in the NHL are interesting. Specifically, a number of readers have suggested that David Kampf be moved to the fourth line so that line can be the shutdown line. They’d like to see a third line that offers the team additional offence.
That’s all well and good, but is there really a difference between whether a line is named the third line or the fourth line? No matter what number you give his line when the going gets tough in the Maple Leafs’ defensive end Kampf’s line will jump over the boards to try to limit any potential damage.
Will Kampf’s line be the third or the fourth line? Does it really matter? His job and his value to the team won’t change.