Toronto Maple Leafs: Mark Giordano’s extension opens up possibilities

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano (55) skates during warmup. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano (55) skates during warmup. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t waste much time signing Mark Giordano to a two-year contract extension as they prepare for the off-season.

Mark Giordano made it known that he would be interested in returning with the Toronto Maple Leafs and it would have been hard to see Kyle Dubas letting the veteran reach free agency.

Some will be surprised to see Giordano take a massive discount on what he made the last few seasons to remain in Toronto. However, this really speaks to the way the Leafs value veterans like him while also getting them to buy into the benefits of playing at home.

"“We are thrilled that Mark has elected to re-sign with the Maple Leafs,” general manager Dubas said in a statement. “Mark came in at the deadline and provided a veteran, stabilizing presence to our back end while vastly improving our defensive play. Everything he does is done to help the team win and that includes a tremendous sacrifice in this contract negotiation.”"

Giordano likely left a lot of money on the table but at his age and point in his career, the motivation for him is clearly the same as it is for Jason Spezza. They only have so many chances to try and win that elusive Stanley Cup and the comfort of playing at home is tough to pass up.

It was clear the influence the 38-year-old had on this team was in his stabilizing impact when paired with Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl who had their struggles this season. Bringing back Giordano also checks off one item on the off-season shopping list but it also brings on an interesting question too.

What does Mark Giordano’s return mean for Toronto Maple Leafs defence next season?

The Leafs now have four left-shot defencemen on the roster going into next season once they get Rasmus Sandin signed. Who would sit out if that’s who is lining up on the left side?

It is tough to envision Sandin being moved to the right side and it would make no sense to see the young defender sitting in the press box. Does this mean that another defenceman could be on the move?

There was chatter about Jake Muzzin’s future given his struggles and injury issues along with his $5.625 million cap hit. However, it should be noted that once he was paired with T.J. Brodie, Muzzin was very serviceable as a shutdown defenceman.

Sure, it would benefit the Leafs to free up cap space by moving Muzzin but that’s only if the team is confident that Giordano can play top-four minutes. Sandin’s trade value is also limited considering his limited playing time in the NHL.

It is up to Dubas to take this Giordano deal and use it to his advantage much like the Tampa Bay Lightning have done with their depth players. There is likely more work to be done to get the team in a better position with the salary cap.

While the front office is saying it won’t make a move just to say they made one, they also can’t be content with the status quo. Changes need to be made but the options remain limited with the players that are eating up a good chunk of the cap.

So unless Dubas can find more players willing to make what Giordano is, the Leafs are going to have a tough time improving the team to the point where they can realistically beat the Lightning.

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What are your thoughts on the extension for Giordano? Do you think this means another player is on his way out the door? Let us know in the comments below.