Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Myers, Giordano, Anderson & 4th Line

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at what the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing to copycat the Maple Leafs. Second, I’ll share what I think the value of defenseman Mark Giordano is to the team.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Puljujärvi, Murray, Marner & Mete

Third, I’ll look at what might happen with Joey Anderson this season. He’ll likely play in the NHL, but will it be in Toronto? Finally, I’ll look at the battles anticipated headed into training camp for the team’s fourth line. It should be fun to see.

Item One: Tampa Bay Copying Maple Leafs Plan

Philippe Myers was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Nashville Predators earlier this summer. This week he signed a one-year contract worth 1.4 million. The 6-foot-5 defenceman will likely play significant role for the Lightning this season – probably as a third-pairing defenseman.

Philippe Myers Flyers
Philippe Myers, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So what does this have to do with the Maple Leafs? One interesting thing that’s happening, although the Maple Leafs probably had to deal with it earlier than most other teams, is that the salary-cap crunch is forcing teams to seek bargain contracts like Myers to fill in the lower roster positions with their teams. Last season, the Lightning moved out some important players because their contracts were too big to re-sign. This season, there’s been even more movement.

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Myers is the type of player who’s becoming more desirable. He brings some quality to the team, but more importantly he brings a contract that fits into the team’s need to remain below the upper limits of the salary cap. 

Item Two: Mark Giordano’s Value as a Fixer

Although many Maple Leafs’ fans were critical of Mark Giordano’s signing (even at the team-friendly amount of $800,000) because of his age, Giordano brings some very needed skill to the team while it’s playing on the ice. Whoever he plays with suddenly seems to become a better player. 

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Former partner T.J. Brodie, who played with Giordano with the Calgary Flames for several years, said as much when Giordano came to the team last season. He was right.

When Giordano and Justin Holl played together during last season’s playoffs, Holl looked good. And, he hadn’t looked all that good during the 2021-22 regular season. 

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So, who will partner with Giordano this season? The answer to that question might be a moving target, and things could change throughout the season. Perhaps it will be Timothy Liljegren, which makes sense because the team has to eventually mature him into a top-pairing defenseman. But to start the season, it seems reasonable to suspect it would be one of either Holl or Liljegren. 

Timothy Liljegren Toronto Maple Leafs
Timothy Liljegren, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What I don’t know is what happens with Victor Mete and Jordie Benn. I think Benn is helpful and he can play solid (if not exciting) minutes without many mistakes. Mete is interesting. He’s a puck-mover and a speedy skater. I can’t imagine there’s not a plan for him. Might he also become a Giordano project?

Item Three: What Happens with Joey Anderson This Season?

Joey Anderson has been a great AHL player; but, it’s time for him to move up – or, perhaps, out. The fact that he’s no longer waiver-eligible makes this a fish or cut bait season for the youngster. You have to think Anderson will be playing somewhere in the NHL this season, even if it isn’t for the Maple Leafs. 

Related: Joey Anderson – The Next Ones: NHL 2016 Draft Prospect Profile

Anderson would simply be too attractive to other teams if he were placed on waivers. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be claimed. He’d be on the roster of many other teams already, and his inexpensive contract would be ever so enticing as a fourth-liner.

Logic suggests that Anderson won’t wear a Toronto Marlies uniform again. So, does he fit somewhere on the Maple Leafs’ roster? That’s a tough question. Training camp will be a difference-maker for the youngster who came to the Maple Leafs from the New Jersey Devils when the team moved Andreas Johnsson in October 2020.

Joey Anderson during a scrimmage when he was with the New Jersey Devils.
(Photo Credit: New Jersey Devils/Patrick Dodson)

To make the Maple Leafs’ roster, Anderson is likely in a dogfight with Adam Gaudette, Bobby McMann, Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Clifford, Nick Abruzzese, Denis Malgin, and Alex Steeves. There seem to be few open spots on the lineup as it is. The landing place, if there’s to be one at all, seems for now (or until someone is injured) on the team’s revitalized fourth line.

I can’t honestly see that Nicolas Aubé-Kubel’s place in the lineup will be in question. It would seem there’s some expectation that he’s the new Michael Bunting. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

I have to think the Maple Leafs’ training camp is going to be very interesting this season, and perhaps mostly on the fourth line. The goalie situation is perhaps the team’s biggest question going into the regular season.

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However, the top-six lines are pretty much what they’ve been for the past season. That said, Nick Robertson’s place remains in question. The team’s third line seems set – at least I hope. (Although I can imagine the desire to put Robertson there for some scoring, I hope it doesn’t happen.)  I’d really hate to see that line move from a shutdown unit.

Give or take a Rasmus Sandin signing, the team’s defense is set. It’s the fights for spots on the fourth line that will be fun to see. As I note, it should be fun.